Hawaii’s Beloved Honu – The Green Sea Turtle
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle holds a special place in the islands, and these beautiful marine creatures are commonly spotted while surfing, snorkeling, or enjoying any of the popular water activities around the islands. Easily recognized, and often spotted lounging on a quiet beach, the Green Sea Turtle is an endangered species, and is protected throughout the world.
Visitors to the islands are often thrilled to stroll out onto the powder white sand and find one of these gentle creatures enjoying a nap and sunbathing, following a tiring swim. However, it is important to remember that touching a Green Sea Turtle is against the law, and these creatures are protected. Posing for photos and making contact is not only a crime, but it endangers the animal.
In the history of Hawaii, the Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) dates all the way back to the first Polynesian voyagers to arrive on the islands. On the Big Island, a Honu petroglyph is found carved into lava fields, showing the importance of the creature and the long connection to Hawaii. To Hawaiians, the Honu symbolizes a navigator, able to find its way back home.
In fact, Green Sea Turtles will return to their birthplace time after time, commonly to lay eggs, even after journeys that take them hundreds and thousands of miles away. Researchers observe turtles frequenting the same coves and beaches, and have even found them sleeping in the same reefs and rock formations beneath the surface.
The best way to spot a Honu is to take a trip into the ocean, snorkeling where turtles are known to feed. Each island has known locations and turtles are often spotted before you enter the water. Keep an eye out for their cute head breaking the surface for a gulp of air!
While snorkeling, remember not to touch or disturb the Honu, and observe them from a safe distance. The play an extremely vital role to the ecology of the island, and their importance to the history of the island should be respected. Hawaii needs the Honu and we want to enjoy their company for many generations to come.
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