(ABOVE VIDEO) Video of the endangered hawksbill turtles emerging from the black sand at Punaluu Beach Park, filmed by Sean King and posted to Youtube by U.S. National Parks of the Pacific Islands
- Eighteen Honu`ea (hawksbills) emerged from a nest at Punalu’u on Thursday. The baby seaturtles were guided to the ocean with the help of volunteers and school children.
- 70 hatchlings have emerged at the Punalu’u nest over the last week, reports the Ka’u Calendar.
The Ka’u Calender wrote that “human involvement began months ago with representatives of the Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project, directed by Lauren Kurpita and Liz Ramson, who protect the eggs and keiki of this endangered species – called Honu `ea in Hawaiian. The researchers explained that they began their watch for development of nests 78 days ago. A 24-seven watch over the nests began two weeks ago.”
Called Honu ʻEa or ʻEa by the Hawaiians, the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), is an endangered sea turtle that lives in the waters of the islands. They are known to nest on nine beaches on Hawaiʻi, on one beach on Maui and at an unknown number of locations on Molokaʻi. Three of the beaches on Hawaiʻi are protected along the remote coast here in the park at Halape, Apua Point, and Keauhou.
Loss of nesting habitat, predation and poaching (their shells make attractive jewelry, illegally sold worldwide as tortoiseshell) have reduced turtle populations to critically low levels.
Late May signals the nesting season, which extends to December. A female waits until night to crawl ashore in search of a suitable site on the beach near vegetation. She uses her strong flippers to dig a flask-shaped cavity. After she deposits an average of 178 eggs she covers the nest with sand. Exhausted, she returns to the sea, leaving the eggs to incubate during the next two months.
Working as a team, the tiny hatchlings scrape the sand off the roof of the cavity and pack it on the floor. In doing so, they raise their nest toward the surface of the beach. When they are about an inch from the surface, they test the sand. If it is cool, an indication of darkness, they emerge from the nest as a group and scramble to the water. Any artificial light source may attract the hatchlings and cause them to head away from the water, get stranded and die.National Park Service webpage on Turtles
by Big Island Video News
Eighteen Honu`ea (hawksbills) emerged from a nest at Punalu'u on Thursday.