MAALAEA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six new honu are now free to explore the open ocean after being released in waters off Maalaea Friday.
The Maui Ocean Center released the turtles named Maluhia, Mohalu, Kao Lele, Lipaki, Koa and Kunoa in a private ceremony offshore to provide a safe release.
The turtles were born in captivity at Sea Life Park in 2015, and raised at the Maui Ocean Center through the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Educational Loan Program. They were used to educate visitors about the lives of turtles and the threats they face in the wild.
"Since 1998, we've raised and released 72 Hawaiian green sea turtles," said John Gorman, Head Curator at Maui Ocean Center, "These turtles play a significant role in educating guests about Hawaii's endangered sea turtles while creating a connection that fosters understanding, wonder, and respect for our local wildlife."
Before they were release, the turtles were blessed and outfitted with a Passive Integrated Transponder tag, which allows the turtles to be identified.
It was a bittersweet moment for some as the turtles ended their two years at the center and moved into open waters.
"We've all formed a bond and relationship with these animals," Gorman said. "We look forward to the day we meet again."
Anyone who sees these turtles, marked with "MOC" and numbers 1-6 on their shells, is asked to contact the Maui Ocean Center at (808) 270-7075, email@example.com, or post to Maui Ocean Center's social media channels. Reports of sightings should include the day, time and location.