North Shore turtle killing a sick tragedy
Earlier this year I wrote a couple of columns celebrating the reappearance of green sea turtles at Laniakea Beach on the North Shore.
I was alerted by a reader to the fact that the small beach between Kamehameha Highway and one of the most popular surfing spots on Oahu had become a favorite place for turtles to haul out on and sun. The turtles had become a tourist attraction, actually causing traffic jams as people slowed down in their cars to see them.
The reader joked that the turtles were seeking revenge "for our previous years of turtle steak and soup consumption and what better way to punish the local population than traffic jams."
I consulted Honolulu Lite's official turtle expert, ocean biologist George Balazs, who said the turtles had returned to Laniakea only since 1999.
I also talked to Joanne Pettigrew, who lives at Laniakea and runs the Malama na Honu Foundation, dedicated to protecting sea turtles, who are protected by federal and state law. She had named the first turtle to show up there Brutus. Another regular visitor was Honey Girl.
Balazs was amazed that turtles would haul out at a beach so busy with humans. "We can't prove it, but they may be recognizing people as no longer their mortal enemies."
Sadly, he was mistaken. We are still their mortal enemies. On Saturday, some vicious idiot slaughtered Honey Girl, cutting off her head and fins and removing internal organs and leaving the body to rot on the beautiful sands of Laniakea.
I know this is supposed to be a "lite" column but this senseless act of violence against a trusting, peaceable, 200-pound, roughly 30-year-old female turtle leaves me outraged. If the perpetrator suddenly appeared before me, I would be hard pressed not to cut off HIS head and arms.
I guess what makes it hurt so much is that I feel somewhat responsible for Honey Girl's death. Reading my previous columns where I quoted Balazs saying things like turtles sunning at Laniakea "flies in the face of deductive reasoning ... (but) it turns out to be a very positive experience for the turtles and the people." I wrote that they are protected under law from being "taken or harassed, but so far nobody on the beach seems interested in doing either to them." In Hawaii, we call that "bachi," saying something positive that sort of becomes a hex. I'm sure George wishes we had both knocked on wood.
Some people say it's wrong to personalize wild animals, give them names, as happened here. If you do and they are killed, it seems to be an act of betrayal by humans.
The fact is, there is true evil in the world. And to slaughter a defenseless protected creature basking on a beach, whether it has a name or not, is evil.
The cruel idiot who killed Honey Girl should turn himself in and accept the $20,000 fine and year in prison he'll get for "taking" a protected species. If he gets caught by the many Laniakea Beach visitors outraged by the slaughter, well, he might not do so well.
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