Videos of sea turtles trapped by lava prompts action by DLNR

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Videos posted on social media show a Hawaiian green sea turtle trapped by volcanic lava. Community members have been asking what’s being done to save them.   

Lava has been entering the ocean since June and people around the Pohoiki community say they are shocked action wasn’t taken sooner.

Nadine Kauila says she’s tried calling the Department of Land and Natural Resources several times about the turtles.

“I’m devastated, shocked that they were not relocated because it was well known that these turtles are in these ponds and can’t get out by themselves,” Nadine Kauila, community member.

The state says it first learned of the turtles being trapped from posts on social media.

“Trying to verify reports, trying to find the location and then trying to mobilize people in a safe manner to get to those areas and try to do what we can to save those marine life is a difficult challenge,” said Brian Neilson, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources.

He says so far they have been doing helicopter fly-overs to find the turtles in distress. He says they are still figuring out a plan to rescue the turtles.

“There’s never been precedent to this kind of event before,” said Neilson. “We’ve responded to fish kills at a small scale but nothing where we’d been at risk for our own lives possibly to respond to those events.”

DLNR says they are continuing to verify reports by helicopter. They say in the next few weeks, they will be working with partners like NOAA to come up with a plan to get in, rescue the turtles and get back out to safety. 

The DLNR also released a press release statement on the situation, which can be found below.

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