Holomua na Honu

Maui Ocean Center Releases Six Green Sea Turtles

Maui Ocean Center will release six juvenile green sea turtles, honu, into the ocean on the morning of Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. from the shores of Ka‘anapali Beach fronting Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel.  Many of the Aquarium’s employees, who have spent two years feeding, cleaning and caring for the honu, will be joined by staff of the Department of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Aquatic Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel to witness the turtles’ introduction into the open ocean. 

“These two year old turtles are healthy and ready for life in the open ocean” said John Gorman, Curator at Maui Ocean Center.  “Maui Ocean Center has been a part of Sea Life Park Hawaii’s Hawaiian green sea turtle Educational Loan Program since we opened in 1998.  This is our third release from shore, the second on the west side, and we are very happy to have the community and visitors participate in this event.” According to Gorman, the turtles will weigh around 20-30 pounds each at release.  Through Sea Life Park Hawaii’s Hawaiian green sea turtle Educational Loan Program, Maui Ocean Center has released 48 green sea turtles over the past 15 years to the open ocean.

The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. with festivities and educational opportunities included presentations by prominent local marine biologists, researchers and community members, informational booths, a turtle encounter, a blessing of the turtles and live music.  Presentations include Cheryl King of the Hawksbill Recovery Project, Ka‘au Abraham of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Author and Researcher Peter Bennett and more.  Several organizations will be on hand to share information and answer questions including the Hawksbill Recovery Project, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel, and Maui Ocean Center.  A highlight of the morning will be the chance to experience an up-close and personal encounter with the honu and Maui Ocean Center’s Curatorial staff.  At 10:30 a.m., the honu will each receive a blessing by Kahu Dane Maxwell, Maui Ocean Center’s Hawaiian Cultural Advisor, prior to being released to the ocean.  Throughout the event, 9am-12pm, enjoy live music by Marty Dread.

“We are honored to work with the agencies and individuals that help make this possible and for the opportunity to
bring people together for this significant event.” stated Kate Zolezzi, the Aquarium’s General Manager.  “In Hawaiian
culture, green sea turtles are one of several species important for sustenance and considered na ‘aumakua, a family’s ancestral god or deity that takes the form of an animal.  The remarkable history of the Hawaiian people and their profound connection to the sea is at the heart of who we are at Maui Ocean Center.”

Shortly after the turtles arrived at the Aquarium and their unique personalities began to stand out, a turtle naming contest was held.  Each turtle was appropriately named; 1.  Lawakua (of strong physique), 2.  Kai Kama (ocean child), 3.  Mimo (quiet, capable yet unassuming), 4. Ana‘ole (insatiable, never satisfied), 5. Miki Iki (small and active), and 6.  Waha lina (fussy, finicky about food).  The turtles will be marked in white with “MOC” and the numbers 1 through 6 on their shells.  Maui residents and visitors are urged to keep an eye out for these turtles.  If you encounter one, please note the day, time and location, and contact Maui Ocean Center at (808) 270-7000 or info@mauioceancenter.com to help with tracking the turtles.

The shore release is made possible with the dedicated and generous assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel, other organizations participating in the event, and many more.

The event is complimentary and open to the public.  A special event parking rate of $5.00 is available at Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel with validation.  Validation is available at Maui Ocean Center’s information table at the event.  For more information call (808) 270-7000 or visit www.mauioceancenter.com.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Educational Loan Program
In partnership with Sea Life Park Hawaii, the sea turtles are part of the Hawaiian green sea turtle Educational Loan Program, authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted under the scientific advice of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.  This program is specifically designed as an educational outreach program geared towards education, conservation, and the enhancement of the public's awareness of the oceans and its inhabitants.

The turtles were hatched at Sea Life Park Hawaii on Oahu and have lived at Maui Ocean Center since July 2011.  Sea Life Park Hawaii is home to a colony of adult Hawaiian green sea turtles which has produced approximately 200 to 800 hatchlings each year, all of which are released into the wild.  Some of these turtles, like the ones at Maui Ocean Center, and those kept at Sea Life Park Hawaii or other collaborating institutions, are released at a later age to provide an educational opportunity for those that visit these institutions, as part of the Hawaiian green sea turtle Educational Loan Program. 

When the hatchlings reach the ages of two to three years, under the authority and approval of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, they are released into Hawaiian waters at a location approved by the agencies.  Sea Life Park Hawaii replaces those turtles released with new hatchlings in order to maintain each facility's educational display program.

Each of the six turtles being released by Maui Ocean Center will be outfitted with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags implanted in both rear flippers.  The tags, small microchips about the size of a grain of rice, contain an
electromagnetic code.  Using hand-held scanners, researchers are able to identify PIT-tagged turtles.  When the turtles are recovered through research efforts, the PIT tags will allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Aquatic Resources, the NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center and other researchers to identify them as the turtles released from Maui Ocean Center.

Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center displays live coral and Hawaiian marine life in over 60 vibrant exhibits.  Twenty-five percent of the animals found at Maui Ocean Center are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.  In addition to daily marine life presentations given by ocean naturalists, Maui Ocean Center highlights specific marine species with enhanced presentations, special guest talks, hands-on activities, upgradeable behind the scenes tours and more each month.  Throughout August, Maui Ocean Center celebrates “Turtle Mania” with interactive events that allow guests to experience green sea turtles up close and personal with the opportunity to learn about the biology, behavior and diet of these amazing creatures.  Program details can be found at www.mauioceancenter.com.

Sea Life Park Hawaii
Sea Life Park Hawaii is not only a fascinating visitor attraction, it is a repository of knowledge, a refuge and a habitat for some of Hawai‘i’s most important and beloved sea creatures.  Guests swim with dolphins, interact with sea lions, feed sea turtles, and dive with sea rays in an educational and entertainment manner found nowhere else in Hawai‘i.  
Located north of Hanauma Bay, Sea Life Park Hawaii features a beautifully designed park with reefs, lagoons, pools, and theaters. Both adults and children can take part in thrilling water activities and exhilarating encounters with marine mammals. Give your entire family an adventure to look forward to – make a reservation today. The park is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  For more information, visit www.sealifeparkhawaii.com.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) works to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people by enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, managing migratory birds, restoring nationally significant fisheries, and conserving and
restoring wildlife habitats such as wetlands.

FWS operates within the Department of the Interior to manage the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System
of more than 551 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. Under the Fisheries program, FWS also controls 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices and 86
ecological services field stations. For more information visit www.fws.gov/.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is the federal agency, a division of the Department of Commerce, responsible for the stewardship of the nation's living marine resources and their habitat. NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is responsible for the management, conservation and protection of living marine resources within the United States' Exclusive Economic Zone (water three to 200 miles offshore). Using the tools provided by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center assesses and predicts the status of fish stocks, ensures compliance with fisheries regulations and works to reduce wasteful fishing practices. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center recovers protected marine species (i.e. whales, turtles) without unnecessarily impeding economic and recreational opportunities. With the help of the six regional offices and eight councils, NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is able to work with communities on fishery management issues. NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center works to promote sustainable fisheries and to prevent lost economic potential associated with overfishing, declining species and degraded habitats. NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center strives to balance competing public needs.  For more information visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

Department of Land and Natural Resources
The Department and Land and Natural Resources mission:  Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawaii nei in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.  For more information visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr.

Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel
The hotel is located just three miles from Lahaina Town, one of Maui's top visitor attractions. The property is low-rise, on eleven ocean front acres in the heart of the Ka‘anapali Resort, conveniently located between Black Rock and Whaler's Village Shopping Center & Museum. Just across the street are the Ka‘anapali Golf Courses, home of the Wendy's Championship Senior Skins Tournament.  Though moderately priced, Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel offers first class facilities and amenities. The 432 guest rooms average 425 square feet in size with spacious lanais (balconies). Each room has either a king size bed with a twin daybed, or two double beds. Color cable TV, clock radio, coffee
maker, hairdryer, iron & ironing board are standard amenities. The hotel offers connecting rooms  in every category and rooms that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards are available.  Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel has
been bestowed with the accolade of “Hawaii's Most Hawaiian Hotel” and it's a designation taken seriously. As hosts
to visitors from all over the world, it is the hotel’s privilege to spotlight the native culture through the practice of its unique values – giving aloha from the heart.  For more information visit www.kbhmaui.com.

Turtles in Hawai‘i
Of the seven species of sea turtle in the world, five are found in Hawai‘i. The green sea turtle, hawksbill and leatherback are considered native to Hawai‘i, and the loggerhead and olive ridleys are rare visitors. Green sea turtles, known as honu in Hawaiian, are the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world, and the most common sea turtle in Hawai‘i. As adults, honu mainly eat algae and sea grasses, which turn their fat layer green, giving them their common name. Green sea turtles are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and comparable laws of the State of Hawai‘i. 

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