Hawaii's sea green turtle ready to experience life in the wild

Jeff Pawloski
Jeff Pawloski

By Howard Dashefsky - bio | email

WAIMANALO (KHNL) - Hawaii's green sea turtle population is about to get a boost.

After being bred in captivity, Sea Life Park will release five of the endangered animals into the wild this Saturday.

Like kids ready to be sent off to college, the five juvenile Honu are ready to experience life on their own.

Raised from little hatchlings no more than a few inches long, the Honu are now a robust 150 pounds.

And ready to enjoy life in the open ocean.

"By releasing them at a larger size this increasing the likelihood that these turtles will surviving until fully matured," said curator Jeff Pawloski.

The release is part of an ongoing program at Sea Life Park, aimed at not only preserving the endangered green sea turtles, but educating the humans who might encounter them.

A program that happened purely by accident.

"About 30 years ago we started out with a bunch of turtles at the front of the park and people were allowed to come up and take a look at the turtles," said Pawloski. "Suddenly one day we saw little babies pop up on the beach and that's how the story began."

Although the majority of the turtles are set free, some are held behind to be kept on exhibit.

That's where the educational part of the program kicks in. Especially for Hawaii's keiki.

"They get an opportunity to look at the turtles very close which is something they couldn't do in the wild," Pawloski said.  "They get to look at them and touch them and see what a real turtles feels like and learn a lot about turtles."

Pawloski says Sea Life Park has released thousands of turtles into the wild over the last 30 years.

All of them with embedded microchips, or satellite trackers that allow scientists to monitor their movements, behaviors and life span.

The release of the turtles will be celebrated Saturday with daylong activities at the park culminating with the release at 4 p.m.