Turtle season starts; reports sought

The hawksbill and green sea turtle nesting season is beginning, and residents are urged to be on the lookout for them and to report sightings.

As threatened and endangered species, the native sea turtles’ nesting success is crucial for their survival, an announcement said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources and the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund work collectively and alongside volunteers to identify, mark and protect sea turtle nests; collect nesting data and share their knowledge with beachgoers on how to help the sea turtles.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Dawn Patrol” volunteers walk key beaches every morning from Sunday to Sept. 30 to search for tracks that nesting turtles leave in the sand.

The public is urged to respect the sea turtles by:

* Staying more than 30 feet away from a nesting turtle and watching quietly, because they are easily disturbed.

* Staying more than 15 feet away from a basking (resting, not nesting) green turtle and not disturbing it.

* Not picking up hatchlings and putting them in the ocean; they need to crawl into the ocean on their own to set their navigational compass and to increase their chance of survival.

* Keeping dogs on a leash when walking on Maui beaches.

The public is urged to contact one of the organizations immediately if finding a nesting turtle, hatchlings, turtle tracks or a turtle in trouble. The officials to contact and their numbers are Skippy Hau, DLNR aquatic resources, 243-5294; Courtney Brown, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 268-6316 or courtney_brown@ fws.gov; or Cheryl King, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, 385-5464, mauihawksbills@gmail.com or www.wildhawaii.org.