Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Notify officials about
injured sea turtles

Question: What is a person's duty on hitting a green sea turtle? In March (week of March 10), on the Leeward Coast, I saw a police car run over a sea turtle and just drive off. I don't think that's right. Aren't we supposed to call for help or at least help the turtle?

Answer: You should notify either federal or state officials.

The U.S. Endangered Species Act and state wildlife laws protect all sea turtles, whether dead or alive, and gives specific instructions for reporting "stranded" sea turtles.

"Stranded" refers to any dead, injured, sick, tumored, etc., turtle, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. A turtle may even look normal, but as long as it is out of the water or in shallow water, the public is advised to contact authorities.

You gave no details except the license number of the vehicle, and left no contact number, so it was difficult to follow up on your allegations against the driver. However, the Honolulu Police Department said its Internal Affairs Division would look into the matter, based on the license number.

Neither law enforcement officials for the fisheries service nor the state Department of Land & Natural Resources' Division of Conservation & Resources Enforcement had any record of such a turtle killing during the period you cited.

Between Feb. 2 and March 22, there were 29 reports of stranded sea turtles on Oahu, all but six of them found dead, according to a list provided by George Balazs, leader of the fishery service's Marine Turtle Research Program in Honolulu.

Four turtles were found along the Leeward Coast, but none during the week you indicated.

On weekends, holidays and after hours, the Division of Conservation & Resources Enforcement is the point of contact for stranded turtles.

On Oahu call the Division of Conservation & Resources Enforcement hot line at 587-0077, and be prepared to give an exact location of the turtle, its condition and its description, advised administrator Gary Moniz.

Federal authorities then will be notified, since state employees normally would not pick up stranded turtles unless there is a law enforcement violation, he said.

From Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., you also can call the fishery service's Marine Turtle Research Program, at 983-5730.

If you witness someone killing, harming or harassing a turtle, you can also call the fishery service's law enforcement branch at 541-2727 or 800-853-1964.

For more information and contact numbers for the neighbor islands, you can also check out the Web site


To whoever found my wallet at the Waikiki Aquarium and to the aquarium staff who kept it safe until I could come back and pick it up. I am very appreciative of everyone's honesty. -- No Name


Useful phone numbers

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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