Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park News Release

Release Date:  Mar. 1, 2012

Contact: Jessica Ferracane/Public Affairs, [email protected] ,
Contact: Will Seitz/Turtle Recovery Project Coordinator,
[email protected], 808-985-6090

Volunteers Witness First Green Turtle Nesting on Hawai‘i Island

Hawaii National Park, HI – Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project
recorded one of its most historic sea turtle nesting seasons in 22 years,
including the first recorded green turtle nesting on the island of Hawai‘i,
a rare daytime nesting by a hawksbill turtle, and an increase in the number
of newly tagged female hawksbills.

In the 2011 report released today, a female green turtle, or honu, was
first observed attempting to nest on the beach in front of the park’s
remote Halapē campsite.  She then traveled 52 coastal miles southwest and
nested at Pōhue Bay. Her historic nest was a success, with 40 baby honu
reaching the ocean. Green turtles are federally listed as threatened, are
indigenous to Hawai‘i, and are seen throughout the islands. They typically
nest in the French Frigate Shoals, but there have been occasional
documented nestings by honu on the other main Hawaiian Islands.

Also within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a female honu ‘ea, or
hawksbill turtle, was observed nesting at ‘Āpua Point at noon, the earliest
daytime crawl in project history.  Hawksbill turtles are endangered, and
nest primarily at beaches along the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island at

Volunteers helped an estimated 3,000 hatchlings reach the ocean from a
total of 30 nests (one green, 29 hawksbill) along five of the beaches they
monitor: ‘Āpua Point, Halapē, Kamehame, Kōloa, and Pōhue Bay.

“Without the help from over 20 dedicated volunteers this season, many of
these hatchlings would not have made it to the ocean.  Thanks to them,
there is hope for the survival of honu‘ea” said Will Seitz, project

Other season highlights included a nest excavation with third grade
students from Volcano School, and a continued increase in the number of
newly tagged honu ‘ea females. Out of the nine female adult hawksbill
turtle observed, five were newly tagged while the rest were returnees from
previous seasons.

During nesting season, from May through December, females come ashore to
lay clutches of eggs.  The eggs are vulnerable during the two-month
incubation, and are preyed upon by mongoose, rats, feral cats, and dogs.
After the hatchlings emerge they can become caught behind rocks or
vegetation, disoriented by artificial lights, run over by vehicles, or
eaten by mammals and birds. Volunteer efforts are critical to their

The 2011 report can be downloaded from the park’s website,

For information on how to help, visit www.volunteer.gov/gov, or contact the
Hawksbill Project at 808-985-6090.