(BIVN) – Five healthy honu were released back into the sea today, part of an annual 4th of July tradition at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows.
Hotels officials say the honu are received from O’ahu’s Sea Life Park as juveniles, and raised in the saltwater ponds of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, “where they are diligently cared for until they grow to a size and weight that are deemed appropriate for release into the wild.”
This year was a special celebration, hotel officials say. It was also a birthday for each of the five turtles released. The three-year-old turtle was hatched on July 4, 2014, and the other four, all two-year-olds, were hatched together on July 4, 2015.
The honu release was one of the first big events held since the transfer of ownership of the Mauna Lani Resort was announced in May.
Executives from the outgoing and incoming companies took part in the release of the honu. They joined a number of other special guests involved in the ceremony, according to the media release, which also named each sea turtles:
Nānā Aina (Keeper of the Land) was released by Tetsuaki Okada of Tokyu Corporation and Ian Pihl of DiamondHead Land Group, representing the proposed transfer of ownership currently underway and symbolizing Mauna Lani’s continued commitment to community and environmental stewardship in the future under DiamondHead Land’s leadership.
Mehana o ka Lā (Warmth of the Sun) was released by Megan Lamson and her husband Patrick. Megan, a marine biologist with Hawai’i Wildlife Fund and the Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources in Kona, has dedicated more than 12 years to community conservation projects on Hawai’i Island.
Na Maka o ke Kai (Eye of the Sea) was released by Channa Kamanawa and Leighton Hind, lineal descendants of Kīholo’s past guardians and keepers; Hui o Kīholo continues to preserve their heritage today, including restoration of their Hawaiian fish pond.
Mele-Ana, a tribute to Mary Ann Lim, was released by the Lim ‘Ohana, a family with deep roots in the Kohala community, including a warm connection to the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, where three generations of the family have serenaded the young sea turtles in the Atrium pond each evening.
Kahikina (Arrival of a New Day) was released by George H. Balazs of the Marine Turtle Research program of NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, a supporter of the Turtle Independence Day program for over 28 years.
The goal of Turtle Independence Day is to raise awareness about honu and educate the public about these important inhabitants of our Hawaiian waters.
A welcome ceremony with a hula performance by Halau Waiau kicked off the beloved community event, with live entertainment, educational displays about honu, July 4th apparel and keepsakes, and ono local food trucks creating an atmosphere of celebration.