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Turtle Transect with Hawaii Wildlife Fund – July, 2015

Today we are heading out with Hawaii Wildlife Fund to count turtles. Our previous excursion with this nonprofit organization to Lanai resulted in the sightings of over 20 turtles including a rare Hawaiian Hawksbill Turtle.  Today, our plan is to head out to another part of Lanai and hop in the water to see if we can document any Green Sea Turtles or more Hawksbills.

Green Sea Turtle

Lahaina Harbor

We arrive at Lahaina harbor. Captain Robert & Cheryl are here to greet us with the ever faithful Seaque which will be our transport to the island of Lanai about 8 miles away.  It’s been raining hard all night and the winds are expected to pick up,  so we are in a hurry to be on our way while the weather still holds.

Cheryl giving Turtle Transect information

Cheryl giving Turtle Transect information

On our way over to Lanai, Cheryl goes over our plan. We will hop into the water near the former “Club Lanai” near the Eastern side of the island.  Cheryl mentions that we should swim in a line about 20 feet from each other and keep an eye out for all types of turtles. I  After a quick ride we arrive and suit up and we are ready to immerse ourselves in the sparkling blue water.

Our Turtle Transect Crew

Our Turtle Transect Crew

Already the winds are picking up and the water is getting bit choppy, so we quickly form a line  and we are off in search of turtles.  One of the first things we notice is a series of beautiful  coral formations.

Coral Reef off Lanai

Coral Reef off Lanai

There is an abundance of fish around these coral formations, like this Oval Butterflyfish.

Oval Butterflyfish

Oval Butterflyfish

 

After a few minutes, I spot our first Green Sea Turtle and holler out to the others in our group.  After getting a few photos for our records I notice 3 other turtles hovering nearby.  One is quite small and quickly swims away.

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

We continue our journey, but notice the water is getting a little stirred up as the waves grow in size.

Green Sea Turtles

Green Sea Turtles

A moray eel edges out from under a coral head. I watch the eel move slowly across the coral, searching for fresh food or a hiding spot.

Out of nowhere another turtle comes into view and I wave to the others in our group.  After hanging out with him for a little while we notice the water visibility is decreasing dramatically and it’s time to head back to to the Seaque and Captain Robert.

Once we are back on board, we swap stories of marine life and turtles. No Hawksbill Turtles were sighted this time, but we did see 6 Green Sea Turtles which is a great number for our hour long transect excursion.

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

The winds have picked up and it’s time to head back to Maui. It’s a quick and bumpy ride. Back on Maui the skies are blue and the waters are calm.

West Maui

West Maui

We look forward to joining Hawaii Wildlife Fund for more turtle research and turtle counting in the future. If you would like to volunteer to watch nests, look for turtle tracks, or various other activities please contact the Hawaii Wildlife Fun at www.wildhawaii.com.

 

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