Two species of sea turtle live in nearshore coastal waters of Hawai'i, green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles. Of these species, the green turtle (or honu) are increasing in abundance with the nesting population growing at a rate of about 5% per year. Hawksbill turtles (honu ’ea) are having a more challenging recovery trajectory with roughly 20-25 females nesting per year despite long-term nesting beach monitoring and conservation programs on the Islands of Hawai'i and Maui. Anthropogenic threats to these species persist and may affect the recovery potential of these species to varying degrees. The NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office, the management branch of NOAA Fisheries in Hawai'i, has been working with various state, federal and NGO partners to develop best-practice guidance, messaging, and outreach strategies to address the three primary threats to sea turtles in Hawai'i: 1) bycatch in coastal hook-and-line fisheries, 2) boat strikes, and 3) human disturbance. To address these threats, multi-agency partnerships and cross-agency collaborations are necessary to effectively communicate and engage with the diverse and complex communities of Hawai'i. An overview of lessons learned, messaging, and available outreach products will be provided in effort to build awareness among conservation and management organizations to encourage and expand partnerships to disseminate products and information widely throughout Hawai'i. Two citizen science opportunities will also be described. Organizations are welcome and encouraged to promote the information presented in this poster (materials available upon request).
Interactions in nearshore gillnet and hook-and-line fisheries are the primary threat to sea turtles in Hawai'i. The multi-agency Fishing Around Seal and Turtles (FAST) program was developed to promote co-existence and increased community awareness by providing best-practice guidance and tips to fishermen.
Fishing line (not the hook) can cause strangulation, loss of flippers, drowning, and death. If a turtle is accidentally caught, fisherman are encouraged – at the moment an accidental interaction occurs – to help by removing and limiting the amount of line left on an animal.
It’s ok to help!
Always remember, your safety first! Turtles are wild animals that may bite, have very strong front flippers, and are deceptively heavy so take care to not injure yourself while attempting to help them.
If safe to help, follow these steps:
Report if you see an animal injured or in distress to NOAA's Statewide Stranding and Reporting Hotline (1-888-256-9840).
This decal is available upon request:
Human disturbance can cause stress or prevent animals from resting or eating. The public is encouraged to view sea turtles from a distance - on land and in the water - from a respectful distance of 10 feet (3 meters).
Additionally, it is important to never feed sea turtles or any wild animal. Do not teach turtles that people, fishermen, boaters, snorkelers, etc. represents a "free lunch."
Help to keep wild turtles wild by giving them space, and not feed or touch them.
Report if you see an animal in distress to NOAA's Statewide Stranding and Reporting Hotline: 1-888-256-9840
This signage is available upon request:
Summer is sea turtle nesting season in Hawai'i, and green turtles are now returning from their primary nesting beach at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. NOAA biologists etched a temporary number on all nesting and basking green turtles at FFS.
The public (ie., citizen scientists) are being asked to report all sightings of turtles with numbers on their shells. Tracking these turtles helps us understand and ID sea turtle foraging habitats, migration, and distribution in Hawai'i.
If you see a turtle with a number on its shell:
Hawksbill and green turtles occur in coastal waters of Hawai'i. Both species are protected from harm under state and federal laws, yet the hawksbill population has not responded to conservation efforts. Why? This is a topic of active monitoring, research and investigation.
NOAA welcomes any information on sightings of hawksbill turtles in Hawai'i to help gather important information on distribution and habitat use.
Learn how to identify hawksbill turtles and report any sightings to NOAA via the statewide Stranding and Reporting hotline (1-888-256-9840) or RespectWildlife@noaa.gov.
Hawksbill turtle - 4 scales between eyes, bird (hawk)-like beak
Green turtle - 2 scales between eyes, flat beak