HILO, Hawaii (AP) - A survey conducted by a Hawaii wildlife conservation group found the Kilauea volcano eruption did not critically damage sea turtle populations on the Big Island.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the Hawaii Wildlife Fund concluded this month that lava did not harm turtle populations despite the persistence of unsubstantiated claims warning of turtle deaths during the eruption that began in May.
The wildlife organization conducted two helicopter flights above the lava-impacted coastline, observing 50 live turtles and other sea life.
The organization’s education coordinator, Kallie Barnes, says turtle experts were consulted for the survey, who agreed that sea turtles were likely able to escape lava en masse.
A.J. McWhorter, communications specialist for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, says the department concurs with the organization’s findings.