Turtle waste abides tide to hit shore at Maalaea
The scat that is left by the seagoing reptiles is deemed unharmful
WAILUKU » The good news is green sea turtles are making a comeback in Maalaea Bay in south Maui.
The bad news is they're leaving signs of their growing presence -- poop, enough to make at least one resident complain Thursday to police, thinking it was a sewage spill, according to state health officials.
State Clean Water Branch official Watson Okubo said the turtle waste isn't a threat to human beings.
"As far as we know there's no communicable disease from turtle poop to humans," Okubo said.
Okubo said a similar situation occurred at Kualoa on Windward Oahu, where hundreds of pieces of fecal matter washed up on the beach. The Kualoa incident happened about 10 years ago, officials said.
State health officials said the turtle waste seemed to be spread across a mile of shoreline from Haycraft Beach Park in Maalaea to Sugar Beach in North Kihei.
Green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, are listed as "threatened species" in Hawaiian waters and protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Threatened species are defined as those likely to become an endangered species through all or a portion of its range, according to federal officials.
The major population of green sea turtles in Hawaiian waters nest in the French Frigate Shoals, where they have increased from 83 females in 1973 to about 400 females during a five-year study ending in 2006, federal officials said.
An adult green sea turtle can grow to be 3 to 4 feet long and weigh 250 to 450 pounds, according to federal marine officials.
Dr. Lorrin Pang, the state district health officer on Maui, said calm weather contributed to the presence of turtle poop.
"With the calm tides and Kona winds, we can expect to see this occur more often," he said. "The area becomes like a large lagoon, and the waste that is normally washed out with the waves settles along the edges."