Marine Conservation Biology in Hawaii

A Very Green St. Patrick’s Day
by -- March 18th, 2015

 

No one got pinched in our class today on St.Patrick’s Day, thanks to the fact we spent the day working with green sea turtles! For our second day of class, we observed and assisted with green sea turtle health assessments in Hanauma Bay. We were very fortunate to have access to the Bay on a day it is normally closed, allowing us to enjoy the beautiful blue waters without the annual 800,000 visitors blocking the view.

A rare empty Hanauma Bay

A rare empty Hanauma Bay

Our journey began at 7:15 this morning as we made our way to Hanauma Bay. There we met the team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After briefing us on the plan for the day, the NOAA team split into three groups to start the search for turtles. Meghan and Dana were the first of our class to join the search. They must have been good luck because their group was the first to find a turtle. After the turtle was found, it was put in the inner tube device pictured below and carried on shore.

A green sea turtle inside the inner tube device used to take them ashore.

A green sea turtle inside the inner tube device used to take them ashore.

Next one of the NOAA veterinarians placed the turtle on a table for the health assessment. This assessment consisted of weight measurements, carapace (or shell) measurements, tissue samples, and checking for previous tags. If tags were not found, they were added both internally (PIT tags, similar to GPS units for pets) and externally on the flippers.

A green sea turtle being examined by NOAA vets.

A green sea turtle being examined by NOAA vets.

Then the turtle was released back in the water, where it couldn’t get back home fast enough!

Almost everyone in the class took a turn snorkeling in the Bay to search for turtles. All in all, six turtles were caught, checked over by the vets, and released.

Green sea turtle with a beautiful shell waiting to be assessed.

Green sea turtle with a beautiful shell waiting to be assessed.

One of the many themes of this course is the intersection of the environment and society, which is especially prevalent in Hawaii. Like I said before, we were lucky to see Hanauma Bay at a time when we were the only people present. However that is not normally the case. In order to see the dramatic change that occurs, we will be returning to the Bay next week when it is open to the public, so stay tuned for more updates. We certainly took our time today to enjoy the once in a lifetime view!

The entire Marine Conservation Biology class at Hanauma Bay. Not too bad for today’s classroom!

The entire Marine Conservation Biology class at Hanauma Bay. Not too bad for today’s classroom!

2 Comments

  1. Rhonda
    Mar 18, 2015

    Wonderful experience with the sea turtles. Love being able to see everything that the class is doing thru pictures, videos and the blog. Thanks

  2. mary edwards
    Mar 18, 2015

    Good job. ..excellent article. ..hope more to come. ..

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