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Be wary of honu nests on Kauai


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POSTED: Sunday, June 14, 2009

WAILUA » The state's aquatic biologist on Kauai is calling on people to watch out for honu, or green sea turtles, nesting and hatching on the beach.

People driving trucks on the beach are the greatest threat to turtles nesting in the Wailua area, he said.

“;The weight of the truck will compact the sand to a degree that the baby turtles will not be able to dig their way up and out of their sandy nest,”; said Don Heacock of the state's Division of Aquatic Resources.

Heacock was recently at Wailua Beach, trying to establish a perimeter around a honu nest. He could see fresh tire tracks from an off-road vehicle less than a foot away.

Motorists should avoid driving on or over any coastal beach vegetation, particularly beach morning glory, or pohuehue and naupaka, Heacock said. Most green sea turtles nest in these plants.

Heacock was also troubled to find dog tracks, both large and small, crisscrossing the turtle tracks. He saw evidence that one dog had begun digging out a nest created by the honu.

During the nesting season, which lasts from about June to September, female green sea turtles come ashore at night when there's high tide at a full moon.

A turtle will spend the night digging a nest and depositing about 100 eggs before covering the nest with sand and returning to the ocean. Eggs usually hatch in 59-61 days, depending on the weather, Heacock said.

The turtles are a threatened species protected by both state law and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.