HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time, Hawaiian green sea turtles have begun nesting at Bellows Beach.
Marine Corps officials said that 13 honu nests have been found in recent weeks. The military has since roped off the nests and have placed signs warning beach goers about the turtle nests.
Meanwhile, the city, which had initially planned to reopen the Bellows Beach campgrounds on June 26, said it will keep the campgrounds closed until Sept. 4, or Labor Day weekend, to restrict activity during the nesting season.
“This is the first time (Marine Corps Base Hawaii) has documented nesting at Bellows Beach. As this was unprecedented, our environmental department was quick to ensure further observation and protection measures for the identified nesting sites,” said Maj. Roberto Martins.
Hawaiian green sea turtles conduct about 90 percent of their nesting activity at the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. But they do occasionally lay their eggs here on Maui and Kahuku.
The Marine Corp’s natural resources experts think the turtles likely migrated to Bellows because parts of their original nesting grounds at French Frigate Shoals were damaged by a hurricane two years ago, Martins said.
He added that the recent shutdown of Hawaii’s beaches in response to the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed.
To be sure, there are some hazards at Bellows Beach, including the use of recreation vehicles near the nest sites.
“Illegal off-roading observed on this beach has the potential to damage nesting sites,” said Nathan Serota, spokesman for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
Since it takes about 60 days for the turtle eggs to incubate, many of the first hatchlings will start leaving their nests soon.