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Hawaiian Green Sea turtles

a turtle swimming under water

Hawaii is home to numerous amazing marine animals. Some of them can only be seen around Hawaiian Islands. Others come to the area to mate and nurture their youngsters and, therefore, can be observed in Hawaii during their most active and social periods of life.

However, the population of sea turtles around the Hawaiian Islands is of most interest both for marine life experts and tourists. The world of Hawaiian sea turtles is extremely vivid and diverse. However, some of them, like Hawksbills, are so rare that it is very hard to see them unless you are a scientist or marine life caretaker.

There are also Olive Ridleys, Leatherbacks, and Loggerheads, but they live in deep offshore waters inaccessible for regular tourists.

It makes the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles the ultimate stars of the show, one of the land’s emblems and the essential representative of local fauna to see during your next trip to Hawaii.

Honus (the local name for the Green Sea Turtles) live in warm shallow waters, and you can easily see them if you go snorkelling or diving. Hawaii has become a home for an enormous population of Green Sea Turtles, and now there is a fully protected conservation area for these amazing creatures located in the North-western Hawaiian Islands. It allowed increasing the population of Hawaiian Green Sea turtles by over 5% during the past 20 years.

In this article, we shall talk about the nature and habits of those peculiar creatures as well as possible dangers for them and the most responsible ways to observe Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.

Fun Facts about Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Here are some fun facts about Hawaiian Green Sea turtles that may make you revise everything you thought you knew about these mysterious creatures and sea turtles in general:

  • Green Sea Turtles live for about 80 years – despite the common belief that turtles can live for hundreds of years, the lifespan of an average Hawaiian sea turtle is pretty human-like;
  • The only vegan sea turtles – Hawaiian Green Sea turtles are the only ones of the species that are entirely Herbivorous (only eat herbal food – marine algae, sea plants, etc.) throughout their whole lives;
  • The largest Marine Turtle – although Green turtles` lifespan might not be that impressive compared to what you head about turtles, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are the largest and the heaviest marine turtles in the world. They can grow up to 4` and can weigh up to 420 pounds;
  • They are not green – many people get confused; why are they called Green Turtles since neither their shell, not skin is green. In fact, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are called that way due to the peculiar green color of their fat, which takes us back to the times when hunters barbarically slaughtered these creatures;
  • A mysterious disease – Hawaiian Green Sea turtles sometimes fall victims to fibropapillomatosis. This is caused by a Herpes-like virus and leads to the development of tumours on turtles’ heads. Sometimes these tumours block their breathing system or prevent them from eating and digesting food normally. Until now, scientists don’t know either the reason not the cure for fibropapillomatosis among Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. It is one of the primary research directions today aimed to preserve these unique animals;
  • Greatest divers in the world – the Kung capacity of Hawaiian Green Sea turtles allow them to stay for a very long time underwater without the need to get out and catch a breath. The longest recorded underwater time for such a turtle was over 5 hours, making them the greatest marine divers.

The history and significance of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Although the measures taken by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature help to increase the population of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, they are still considered endangered species.

These turtles have always played an extremely important role in the life and culture of Hawaiians. Unfortunately, along with great respect towards Honus, it almost leads to their extinction.

The green sea turtles were an integral part of cuisine as well as a commodity for tools and household items and even a material for ritual attributes and art.

The arrival of Western people to Hawaii dramatically increased the hunt and use of the Green sea turtles for food, crafts, and decorations. And while nobody thought about sustainable and mindful use of resources during the XIX and early XX century, while the Western market was craving for more exotic goods and food, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have nearly disappeared from the face of Earth by the 1960s.

However, despite all the efforts of Hawaiian authorities, people, and marine scientists from all over the world, the Green Sea Turtles were not officially considered an endangered species until 1978, when their status was recognized officially.

Today the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles are not being hunted and used for food or any other purposes. The main threat for these creatures is the destruction of their habitual nesting sites. Due to global warming and climate change, as well as the change of shoreline, the Green Sea Turtles are often deprived of safe and comfortable places for nesting.

The Green Sea Turtles mate and lay eggs once in 2 years. Considering the ongoing climate change tendencies, it is pretty often that the nesting place used once will be unavailable during the next mating season, and therefore the turtles may be forced out of their habitual environment.

The most mysterious turtle

Despite the fact that Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are pretty famous and easy to see on the islands, they remain among the most mysterious and understudied marine creatures in the world.

For example, although scientists managed to track and document their migration and navigation patterns, they still cannot fully understand them.

The way Green Sea Turtles choose their nesting grounds as well as feeding areas seems pretty erratic and does not fall under any particular pattern. Moreover, it is almost impossible to predict when the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles will “take off” and leave their feeding ground or head towards a nesting area. Sometimes it happens when the area they leave is still full of food, and migration is much more dangerous than the perspective to stay “at home.”

The only theory that can more or less explain such seemingly spontaneous behaviour is that the Green Sea Turtles are hypersensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field, and their migration and mating periods are determined by it. However, there is not enough data to prove this theory until now.

It is also unclear how the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles choose their nesting beaches. While some experts claim that they are able to return to the beach where they were born and prefer to lay eggs there, the existing data and observations do not prove this idea entirely. However, there is still a possibility that the turtles’ behaviour patterns change due to global warming and climate change.

When and how to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Summer is considered the best time to observe the Green Sea Turtle in Hawaii. As long as they prefer calm and warm water, winter waves may scare those gentle creatures off.

During the summer Green Sea Turtles don’t only float peacefully in shallow water but also often get out on the beach to catch some warm sunlight. You have the best chance to spot Green Sea Turtles on the beach between 11 AM and 1 PM when the sand is warm enough, but the sun rays are not too hot for turtles.

You should be very careful heading to the beach to observe the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles in their natural habitat. First of all, they usually prefer rocky beaches. Such places are not most comfortable for swimming and may even be dangerous for kids. It is a great idea to wear swimming shoes to avoid injuries.

For the very same reason, you may want to consider a boat tour as an option to get close to the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles and observe them. The turtles are peaceful and gentle creatures; therefore, snorkelling in their company can be an outstanding experience as long as you observe safety regulations and treat their ecosystem with care and respect.

Local activists who are always present at “turtle beaches” as well as qualified boating crews will gladly explain to you the essential rules and safety tips and help you get in touch with one of the most mysterious animals in the world.

Contact Hawaii Ocean Charters today and explore the endless possibilities to make your next Hawaiian vacation full of thrills and exciting discoveries.

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