Hanauma Bay’s Green Sea Turtles


EJ_PROFILEStory by Emma-Jane Eeles

A blessed ocean connection As I adjust my mask and fit my flippers on both feet I can sense that something beautiful is about to happen.

It is a sunny day and I am in Hanauma Bay on the South East Coast of Oahu, Hawaii. I launch myself slowly into the water, taking care not to step on the precious coral that lies beneath me. You can feel the ancient beauty of the sea bed, that is made up of living coral reef sprinkled in between white sand. Colored fish dart back and forth, feeding carefully on the coral, their lifeline. Other snorkelers keep close to shore as my partner and I swim to a reef further out the back to where there is no one else. We end up being separated as we both dive further down to see the myriad of fish life so present around us.

photo: Kane Howard

Photo: Kane Howard

I start to swim further out and then I see my partner again. He grabs my hand in excitement and I immediately know what he is about to show me before I even see her. He knows how much I wanted to experience this moment, my primary reason for visiting Hawaii.

The beautiful female green sea turtle is feeding on the coral reef, unaware that we are in awe at her incredible presence. As she looks up toward us she starts gliding through the water tempting us to follow her graceful lead, so we do. She is slow and deliberate, moving herself through the water gently. We snorkel beside her and I feel an absolute sense of calm, like nothing I have ever felt before in nature. She is so peaceful and gentle, so completely pure that I just want to cry.

The native Hawaiian name for the Green Sea Turtle is Honu. Honu are featured in Hawaiian mythology, petroglyphs and as Aumakua (personal family gods). Early Hawaiians used green sea turtles as a source of food, tools and ornamentation. The native Hawaiians made sure to keep their use of the turtle in balance with nature. However, with the arrival of western culture came the exploitation of natural resources like the turtles. Large numbers of green sea turtles were harvested throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In 1974, the State of Hawaii passed a regulation providing protection. In 1978 the Hawaiian green sea turtle was placed on the list of threatened species. Today the island is home to many of these turtles, however they are still a threatened species and must always be approached with complete respect, love and a trusting connection.

photo:  Kane Howard

Photo: Kane Howard

This blessed moment in Hanauma Bay was my first experience on Oahu with these beautiful marine creatures. In the days that followed, we were blessed to swim with and connect on the North Shore with 2 sisters and again on the south shore with a large female in Waikiki as we surfed the pristine aqua waters.

Nature human connection is so precious and we must do what we can to protect our marine environment so that these incredible creatures can be free to swim in pristine waters forever.

‘Take only memories, leave only footprints’


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