Carapace Alliance On-Site With Malama na Honu
Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Information sourced from: Malama na Honu's website
In September of 2018, our team had the pleasure of meeting with Debbie Herrera, Volunteer Education Coordinator for O'ahu's Malama na Honu (Protect the Turtles), a non-profit organization operating on North Shore to protect Hawaiʻi's honu or green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). The program was founded in 2007 and came about as the successor organization of NOAA's "Show Turtles Aloha" campaign, which was founded in 2005.
Debbie and the 100 Honu Guardians of Malama na Honu dedicate their time to protecting the basking honu 365 days a year for 8–10 hours a day. While their primary focus is on the green turtle, Hawaii is also home to the hawksbill (honu'ea) and leatherback species.
The green turtle is noted for its green body fat, hence the species name. It feeds on algae, seaweed, and sea grass or limu. The species lives 60–70 years and reaches sexual maturity at 25–30 years of age. Every 2–5 years, the North Shore population migrates thousands of miles to return to the NW Islands and the coral atoll—the French Frigate Shoals—which was concernedly wiped out by the recent Hurricane Walaka.
Honu will return to nest in the area in which they were born and have been documented basking on the North Shore since 1999, often for food, safety, and warming. Per Malama na Honu data, Female turtles will lay 2–7 clutches of 75–100 eggs every 12–15 days with an incubation time of 48–70 days. The organization tracks 24 returning turtles (10 males, 8 females, and 6 juvenile) with NOAA. These 24 subjects are monitored for their behavior, migrational patterns, and time-depth records via satellite tag and ID.
Thankfully, Malama na Honu educates on-site visitors about acceptable methods of observation, species data, and conservation efforts. The green turtle is currently threatened and protected by state and federal law via the Endangered Specials Act. This act protects honu, both dead or alive. Report stranded turtles—dead, injured, sick, or tumored—to your local Federal or State Enforcement offices or #seaturtle911.
Thank you, Malama na Honu, for your continued efforts to ensure the health and wellness of the green turtle species.