Sunday, November 23, 2008


The other day, we received an e-mail from a sea turtle biologist with NOAA Fisheries at the Pacific Islands Regional Office in Honolulu, Hawaii asking if she could use Jim Angy's disoriented hatchling photos that she found in an August posting on this blog. She explained that she plans to use the photos to illustrate the extreme disorientation that occurs when hatchlings are confused by anthropogenic lights. (Anthropogenic is defined as resulting from the influence of human beings on nature.) Jim is generous in providing his photos for anything educational, so off went five photos. He is still shaking his head at the wonders of the Internet that would somehow connect a biologist in Hawaii with a photographer in Florida!
When we transmitted the photos, I asked Kim (the biologist) if she would share some of her adventures with us, and back came the photos you see here, along with this description of her work. (Serendipitously, the hatchling is a Hawksbill, which fits just perfectly with our previous posting about Sandy, the Hawksbill from St. Croix. ) Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge.
As far as our work out here, it covers a wide range of issues; I generally work on sea turtle issues within the state of Hawaii although our region and therefore our responsibility also includes the US territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. We also are involved in a number of international project with partners throughout the Pacific. We have a turtle team of three here in the Protected Resources Division in the regional office who work on the regulatory/management side of things and also our counterparts at the regional science center who perform research and run the stranding program. I work closely with many partners within the state on projects involving interactions between sea turtles and nearshore fishers and also hawksbill recovery and conservation. Hawaii's hawksbills nest exclusively within the Main Hawaiian Islands (unlike greens who nest mainly in the uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands), so when it comes to addressing anthropogenic threats, hawksbills are often a high priority. While most nesting occurs on the Big Island, several turtles per year also nest on Maui, and there have been conflicts involving artificial lighting on that island in particular. Hawaii Wildlife Fund monitors the nesting activity on Maui, and the Hawaii Hawksbill Recovery Project monitors the activity on the Big Island. Attached is a photo of a Hawaii Hawksbill Recovery Project researcher holding a hawksbill hatchling that emerged in the morning before it scampered to the sea, one of the hatchling on its way to the water, and a broader look at some of the rugged, black sand nesting habitat often used by hawkbills in Hawaii. I took these on one of my site visits to the project. Enjoy!
Our thanks to Kim for sharing her photos and her experiences - such a treat!


Amanda said...

Those baby turtles just warm my heart. You should be very proud of yourself for all the work you do. I love your blog and I am amazed by all I have learned here!!

Anonymous said...

My father was stationed on Ascension Island in the Atlantic from 1942-1943 and one night he said he heard a crazy noise and went outside and saw a sea turtle nest hatching, with little turtles scrambling for the sea. The noise was coming from a flock of Wideawake tern who seemed to be eating the turtles as fast as they hatched out. My Dad always wondered how any of them every made it out to sea!

Great story from Hawaii,