Email us your submissions!

The address to send in content suggestions is:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of the 2009 Turtle Nesting Season

Aloha Turtle Enthusiasts,

After ~2 weeks of night patrolling for our 2009 nesting hawksbills, Kulu and Kalohe, we never discovered signs of any more of their nests at Kealia. We were hoping to locate them laying more nests so we could do some satellite tracking research, but considering how late it is in the season it’s not a surprise that they were done nesting after their last nests. Another possibility is that they went to different beaches to nest and we simply didn’t hear about it.
There was an extremely unfortunate incident that happened near the Maui Lu Resort along South Kihei Rd a couple of weeks ago. Unknown to us, a hawksbill nest was laid atop the dunes and when the hatchlings emerged they became disoriented by the streetlights, signage lights, and car lights and crawled onto the road instead of finding the ocean. Only ~30 hatchlings were saved with a total of 88 dead and dying hatchlings found on the road. We located the nest and excavated it but there were only two live ones left.
At this point we can’t say for sure if Kulu, Kalohe, or a different turtle altogether laid this Maui Lu nest. The incubation time period coincides best with a nest that Kulu could’ve laid before we found her first one of the season at Kealia. It’s not uncommon for turtles to nest in different locations, and these nesting sites are less than two miles away. As we were excavating the nest, we found out that a turtle (most likely this nester) had been found two months ago and folks helped her get back across the road to the ocean. The bright coastal lighting almost certainly disoriented her as well, and she probably barely missed getting run over herself! We will be including this stretch of coastline in our patrols next year for sure, and although it’s not practical to build a turtle fence around the whole island, something needs to be done…
There was a similar lighting-related disorientation incident with a green sea turtle nest in Ka‘anapali a week afterwards. Again, we didn’t know about the nest until hatchlings were found on the boardwalk (attracted inland towards the resort lighting). Luckily there wasn’t a road there, and passersby helped numerous hatchlings to the ocean before we found the nest. As both green and hawksbill nesting increases in brand new locations all around Maui, this serious problem will become more common. For more information on this topic and what you can do to facilitate “turtle safe lighting”, please visit our website.
The only positive piece of information that came out of the Maui Lu incident was that at least the hawksbill hatchlings developed successfully there. Hopefully this will be the case for the three Kealia nests, and the Kealia nest we relocated to Kawililipoa, but if not that will still provide us with some clues for solving this unproductive nest mystery.
Just like we’ve been doing since the beginning of this project in 1996, we’ll be monitoring the four nests we have left this season very closely. Starting on October 5th, we’ll be camping at the first Kealia nest. Due to the close dates of the subsequent nests we may be camping almost every night this month (depending on incubation success/durations). Once hatchlings become known, we’ll be scheduling daytime watches as well since we’ve had hatchlings emerge during all hours of the day and night. We need your help! Here’s your chance to join in the fun of helping us make sure every hatchling makes it to the ocean safely. Please contact us with your October availabilities, day or night, and we’ll send you specific details.

Mahalo to all who have helped so far this season!!!

Hawksbill Recovery Project

No comments: