HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Marine Institute Maui Ocean Center recently released their Sea Turtle Conservation Program 2021 Impact Report.

In the report they go over their mission to ensure the survival of coral reefs and sea turtles in Hawaii through science-based conservation efforts, education and outreach. 

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According to their study there was 231 documented “stranded” sea turtles located on the island of Maui in 2021. 

Stranded meaning a sea turtle is either found dead or is alive but is unable to go about its normal behavior due to injury, illness, or other problems. Stranded sea turtles can either be found washed ashore or still in the water. 

Their report showed 229 of the 231 “stranded” sea turtles were green sea turtles and two were hawksbill sea turtles. The most common reason for the stranded sea turtles were from fisheries interactions. 

Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island and has more than 180 miles of coastline that contain more than 100 beaches. 

Among the 231 sea turtles stranded, most were documented on Maui’s south side (136) followed by their west side (54). 

They report interactions with nearshore coastal fisheries being the primary threat to sea turtles in the main Hawaiian Islands. The report showed 87% of documented sea turtle’s injuries were due to fisheries.

The top three fishing interactions that cause sea turtles to be stranded are:

  • Entanglement with fishing line
  • Foul-hooked
  • Hook / line ingestion

Community members and visitors assist with data collection of sea turtles by reporting their sightings of tagged turtles on Maui. 

Their sightings help the organization see how the sea turtle is doing post-release of their care and gain an understanding of their habits. In 2021 they had more than 800 sighting reports. 

In 2021 the Marine Institute Maui Ocean Center held a community beach cleanup program to reduce trash along the Maui shoreline. More than 40,000 pieces of debris were collected.

The top five items picked up were:

  1. Hard plastic pieces
  2. Paper / cardboard
  3. Cigarette butts
  4. Glass pieces
  5. Food wrappers

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For more information on their efforts to keep the coral and sea turtles safe, or to read the full report head to their website