A Honu world; shimmering, shining, splendid. This is the glorious green sea turtle of Hawaii, Chelonia mydas. No matter how many times I see one, I am always happy to be in their graceful presence. Perhaps it is their ties to both land and water that make them so special to islanders around the world (they are found in nearly every ocean). To the delight of bathers and snorkelers, honu inhabit the shallow waters around the islands, grazing primarily on limu and sea grasses. As marine reptiles, they must come up occasionally for air, and will haul out on beaches for rest and for warming their cold-blooded bodies - an unusual behavior for sea turtles. Honu are the most common of the five species that visit Hawaiian waters, and the largest of the hard-shelled turtles, getting to lengths of three feet and weighing as much as three hundred plus pounds. The "green" in green sea turtle comes from the color of the fat layer between the shell and body.
Unlike their land-dwelling relatives, their feet have been modified into flippers, and their carapace streamlined into a teardrop shape. Good thing, because it's a long swim from their feeding grounds to the French Frigate Shoals, where they breed and nest on or near their natal beaches. Females make the trip every two to four years. After mating has occurred, she hauls up on the beach and flipper-digs a hole in the sand in which to lay her clutch of one hundred or more eggs. Once they have been tucked in all snug in their sandy bed, off she goes. She will repeat this process every couple of weeks, laying an average of five clutches during a season. About two months later, the hatchlings emerge and instinctively scramble to the water. It is a perilous journey, with any number of predators, and only a small percentage of the babies will survive to adulthood. They will forage in open waters for several years, during which time they are omnivores, unlike the adults which are primarily herbivores. Eventually, the juveniles will take up life in the shallows like their parents. With luck and our protection, these gentle friends may live as long as the humans they delight.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.