Honu Return To Sea

George Balazs
George Balazs

(KHNL) - Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are an important part of Hawaii's island culture, and history. KHNL brings you the story of these amazing creatures, and what one group is doing to help them.

Sharks and humans are the only known predators of honu. People have played a large role in bringing the species to the brink of extinction.

"Back in the seventies, turtles were taken as food for peoples homes, they were sold in restaurants, for tourist dinners, said George Balazs, NOAA Sea Turtle Biologist. "Simply too many of them were taken during those years."

In 1978, Balazs was instrumental in getting Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles listed as a threatened species, making it illegal to kill, capture or harass them.

"The protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act has seen one of the marvels of modern wildlife conservation. The restoration of the green turtle in the hawaiian islands has been phenomenal," said Balazs.

For 34 years, Balazs has studied Sea Turtles and has been committed to their recovery. Now, he's taking a very hands on approach. Tuesday night, onlookers aboard the Pride of Hawaii Cruise Ship bid aloha to 45, five-month old honu.

"Its time for the sea turtles to go back to the sea," said Balazs.

They were born at Sea life Park, but their ancestry has been traced to Hawaiian waters. Their ride aboard the ship is over, but the journey is just beginning for these young turtles. This was the second time turtles raised at Sea Life Park have been released from the ship. Balazs said the sea turtle population is recovering, and credits the Endangered Species Act, and education efforts.