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Hawai‘i Volcanoes Receives Grant for Endangered Hawksbill Turtles

August 4, 2014
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park biologists and volunteers are currently in the midst of hawksbill monitoring season, which runs from May through December. Highlights from the season include:
- 10 honu ēa have been documented , including 6 returnees, and 4 newly tagged
- One of the returning females had not been documented since 2005, and biologists and volunteers were overjoyed to see her return!
- 21 nests are confirmed at four beaches, including two within the national park, ‘Āpua Point and Halapē.

 

 

honu‘ea keiki

A newly hatched honu‘ea or hawksbill turtle. NPS Photo

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of 23 national parks selected to receive a 2014 Impact Grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. The $19,200 grant will assist park efforts to protect the federally endangered hawksbill turtle, known as the honu‘ea in Hawaiian, by supporting park volunteers who monitor nesting beaches, rescue distressed females, eggs and hatchlings, improve habitat, and provide information to beachgoers along the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island.

Loss of nesting habitat caused by beach erosion and invasive plants threatens the future of the honu‘ea on the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island. Student biologists and individuals from the community will assist as volunteers and remove invasive woody plants such as koa haole that are encroaching on to beaches, as well as relocate nests to prevent damage to fragile eggs from high surf and overcrowding.  While monitoring turtle activity, volunteers assist stranded females and hatchlings, and provide on-site information of park recovery efforts to beachgoers.

 

Packed up and heading out

Volunteers wtih the  Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project head out to ‘Āpua Pt. NPS photo

“The honu‘ea is a much beloved turtle in Hawai‘i and it would be tragic to see this animal disappear from our shores.  We’re very excited to work with the National Park Foundation to restore nesting habitat. In addition to helping to protect the turtle, we’ll also be providing valuable training and experience to students interested in pursuing careers in conservation biology,” said Dr. Rhonda Loh, Chief of Natural Resources Management for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Now in its seventh year, the Impact Grants program provides national parks with the critical financial support they need to transform innovative, yet underfunded, ideas into successful in-park programs and initiatives.

Headed back to sea

A female honu‘ea heads back to sea after laying her eggs. NPS photo.

“Through our Impact Grants, we will help make a profound difference in our national parks by providing much-needed funding for projects that support habitat restoration, wildlife protection, and conservation research,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.

The 2014 Impact Grants were made possible, in large part, through the support of Disney and Subaru of America. A listing of these parks and their Impact Grants project descriptions can be found on the National Park Foundation website.

For more information on the National Park Foundation and how to support and protect America’s national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org. For more information on the National Park Service, please visit www.nps.gov.

 

nest

Honu‘ea nest. NPS Photo

 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at: www.nps.gov.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.

 

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