HONOLULU (KHON2) — Multiple organizations are working together to protect the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle on Maui.
The Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Mahi Pono are working to repair fencing along the shoreline in Ma’alaea. The beach protects turtles from wandering into traffic as they search for a safe place to lay their eggs.
“We have seen an uptick in vandalism to the fence – we continually work to repair it only to find that it has been vandalized again”, said Hannah Bernard, executive director of HWF. “We are also observing more vehicles driving on to the beach in areas where the fence has been damaged. This is a major safety issue for the turtles, beachgoers and the environment.”
The fence also protects the sand dunes in the area, which are an essential nesting site for the turtles. Sea turtle nesting season runs from mid-April to early September.
The public can help sea turtles by remembering to:
- View sea turtles from a distance of at least 10 feet or more. Do not touch, feed or chase them.
- Be mindful that harassing or disrupting a sea turtle or their nest can incur significant penalties, including a hefty fine and imprisonment.
- Avoid driving off-road vehicles (trucks and ATVs) on the beach as they can crush turtle nests, create tire ruts that trap hatchlings, and degrad habitates. Driving on beaches is illegal in most areas.
- Report illegal beach driving to the police department or to Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at (808) 643-DLNR.
- Please report any harassment or harmful activities toward marine animals to NOAA by calling 1-888-256-9840 or by emailing RespectWildlife@noaa.gov. Reports can also be made to the DLNR hotline.