Called Honuʻea 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.
PROTECT THE HAWKSBILL TURTLES .......
Protect endangered hawksbill turtles by observing the following regulations:
Federal and state laws protect all Hawaiian sea turtles from harassment, harm, pursuit, shooting, killing, trapping, or collecting.
Technical Report 178 - Twenty Years of Conservation and Research Findings of the Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project, 1989-2009 (January 2012)
You may access the report here (external website):
Last updated: October 7, 2019