LANIAKEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For turtle lovers, the images are disheartening to look at. Photos from NOAA Fisheries show a honu's shell cracked and broken after they say a boat's propeller collided with the animal.
A NOAA veterinarian then looked at the injury and determined the turtle — colloquially named Kaipua who frequents Laniakea Beach — was in fact hit by a boat.
The vet further decided that the injury was healing naturally, and it would be best to keep the animal in the wild.
"We released the turtle back at Laniakea, where Malama na Honu (a non-profit dedicated to sea turtle outreach and education) and the public can continue to monitor the healing process," officials said.
"If necessary, the animal can always be brought back in for further evaluation," Irene Kelly, NOAA's sea turtle recovery coordinator added.
NOAA says each year, they recover roughly anywhere from 10 to 25 turtles struck by boats.
It serves as a reminder to boaters to practice safe boating while out in the water to protect marine life.
NOAA's message: "Ease off the throttle until in deeper water."
Officials urge boaters to maintain "Slow–No Wake" speeds within 200 feet of shore, and 300 feet of shore for jet skis.
"All boat operators, whenever able, should post a lookout to help watch for marine animals, coral heads, swimmers, and divers," Clifford Inn, DOBOR boating safety education specialist added. "This simple practice could greatly reduce the number of boat strikes and potential fatalities."
Since 1990, there have been 330 boat-related turtle strikes, NOAA says.
The turtle injured last week was tagged with the number 1016 for future monitoring. The public is welcome to report sightings of Kaipua via photos by emailing them to RespectWildlife@noaa.gov.