The Green Sea Turtle or Honu is the species everyone can see on a daily basis. You can look down the reef to see them eating algae and sticking their heads up for air. When surfing, they swim all around you, curiously coming up to your board, popping up at any given time. One of the best ways to see them is down at Ho’okipa beach. Through the late afternoon and sunset they come up to bask for the night. This is one of the only places in the world where they come to bask so consistently and in such large numbers. The past couple months we have seen 20-46 Honu on the beach at the end of the night. They march up at 6:30-7:00 P.M. almost by the dozen. Looking like moving rocks coming slowly out of the water. They live to be 80 when healthy, but most on the beach are 20-40 years old. This is because they were not protected until the late 70’s and were hunted to near extinction. It is amazing to see these guys drag themselves up the beach with their front flippers, it’s not easy either, they weigh 200-350 pounds!
It has almost been two months living on the North Shore of Maui. I am here (thanks to Patagonia for supporting me) to help Hawaii Wildlife Fund with their Sea Turtle protection and restoration projects…and to surf.
There are two main kinds of Sea Turtle that live close to Maui’s shore, both nest on the island. The first is the Green Sea turtle and the second is the critically endangered Hawksbill sea Turtle.
The photos above are mostly along the North Shore, where the Green Sea Turtles bask in large numbers. There is some nesting along this coast too, but my job on this beach is to keep watch over these basking turtles, and keep track of numbers, times of arrival and departure.