University of Hawaii System newsletter

Hilo Rescues Endangered Sea Turtle

Posted on | July 15, 2011 | Comments Off on Hilo Rescues Endangered Sea Turtle

Hilo Associate Professor Jason Turner, Lecturer Jennifer Turner, Education Specialist John Coney, Marine Science Technician Jill Grotkin and students enrolled in the Marine Science Summer Program participated in the rescue of an endangered sea turtle stuck in a freshwater pond at the site of the old Punaluʻu Village Restaurant. The distressed animal was a critically endangered female hawksbill sea turtle whose numbers total just over 100 nesting females.

At 309-pounds, the female hawksbill was one of the largest ever recorded. The animal was examined for injuries, measured, tagged and then released into the ocean as visitors and beach-goers looked on.

man and turtle

George Balazs with the turtle at Punalu‘u

For George Balazs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a world-renowned sea turtle expert, the episode had a touch of deja vu. It was just over 11 years ago that Balazs, with the help of Hilo Professor Leon Hallacher and a group of university Marine Option Program students, saved another female hawksbill from the very same pond.

“George was telling us the story of that hawksbill as we were setting up, but we had no idea that history was about to repeat itself,” says Jennifer Turner.

Read the news release.