“Yes” is the response to a question often asked…”Are there turtles at Turtle Bay Resort?”
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is a member of the green sea turtle family. It tends to be rather shy and elusive but since becoming protected under the United States Endangered Species Act in 1978, it has been making a significant recovery in the numbers of native populations. At numerous times throughout the year these turtles, which can exceed 200 pounds each, visit the various bays of Turtle Bay Resort to munch on sea grasses, seaweed and algae (they are pretty much vegetarians).
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle displays a unique behavior that is not seen in its cousins around the world. It basks in the sun on the beach. The North Shore provides one of its favorite places to do so at Laniakea Beach, which is just down the road from Turtle Bay Resort. Scientists as of yet are at a loss to explain this variant of behavior but we suspect it might have something to do with the Hawaiian sand because tourists from all over the world come here and do the same thing….they lay down on the sand and they don’t move for hours either!
Every third year or so after reaching maturity (which takes 25 to 30 years) the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle returns to nest at the French Frigate Shoals. The arriving turtles come from a range of thousands of miles from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Kure, Pearl and Hermes, Midway Atolls) to the far outreaches of the main Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Hawaii), where pairs will mate and bury hundreds of eggs.
A curious component of the birthing process is that the baby turtles do not inherit their sex from their parents by rather by the temperature of the sand during their incubation period, which usually takes between 50 and 70 days. The pivotal temperature for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is 28.26 degrees Celsius (82.9 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the temperature at which an equal number of male and female hatchings will be produced. If the temperature falls below this number more males will be produced; above and more females will be hatched.
“Yes” the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle does frequently visit the bays of Turtle Bay Resort. They are hard to spot so you have to be patient. Look for shadows moving in the water that should not be moving. Pretty soon you’ll see it come up for air.
For more information on the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle check out Patricia Greene’s (NOAA Teacher-at-Sea) article “An Expedition of Monument Proportion”.
Top Right Photo: From the Lobby Window at Turtle Bay Resort
Bottom Left Photo: Photo Credit to Clair Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries