Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles: Look But Please Don’t Touch

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, or Honu, are one of the many majestic creatures who inhabit our islands. They are often seen resting on the beach or in the water while snorkeling, these gentle animals are friendly, but it’s better to not force an encounter with them. Found throughout the Pacific, the most common place to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles on Oahu is at Laniakea Beach on the North Shore. The beach has even been nicknamed “turtle beach.” While viewing the turtles is okay and can be a once in a lifetime experience, it is better for the turtles well being if you do not approach them. Often, there are volunteers at Laniakea Beach who are adamant about this courtesy to the turtles.
Listed as an endangered species since 1982, an adult Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle has only two natural predators; sharks and humans. Poachers hunt them for their shells, and well, sharks hunt them for food. Humans can also indirectly have a negative effect on them by littering bags and plastic rings which hold 6-packs of soda cans. Turtles will mistakenly eat the bags thinking they are jellyfish, which are the main staple of their diet, and will have a false sensation of fullness and cease to hunt for food. It’s very sad, they don’t even realize they are starving. Keeping our beaches clean is not just to avoid an eyesore, it protects the animals who call our beaches home. An even more rare animal that can be found on Hawaii’s beaches is the Hawaiian Monk Seal. These beautiful creatures are even more endangered, and should definitely be respected by giving them at least 50 feet of space.
While a close encounter with these animals may seem harmless, humans are much bigger and can have a traumatic effect on them. Animals are curious by nature so if you are approached by one, take it as a beautiful moment and consider yourself lucky because they are choosing to say “hi” to you. While many people are aware of these ideals, there are individuals who may not realize it when overstepping their boundaries. Because these animals are endangered species, harassing them can be punishable with a fine. Do not worry though, if you are respectful of them and snap photos from a courteous distance, you will get a great picture and have a wonderful vacation story to share with friends and family. Just like everything fragile and beautiful, a little respect goes a long way. Thank you for reading, Aloha!

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