HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Baby Hawaiian green sea turtles are beginning to emerge from the sand at Bellows Beach to begin their journey into the ocean.
It’s the first-ever documented birth of the threatened species of honu at the Marine Base Training Area Bellows.
“The hatchlings are pretty exciting,” said Lt. Col. Tim Pochop of Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “To protect them and nurture these hatchlings and get as many back into the water as is pretty positive.”
Marine Corps officials said eggs from four nests at Bellows have begun to hatch. They are monitoring at least eight more nests at the beach.
Base officials shared a video of one of the hatchlings makings its way into the water earlier this month. The baby honu was heading the wrong way before it was discovered by people monitoring the nests.
“This one was rescued during the day. It was placed away from the beach and it was allowed to crawl to the water,” said Dain Christensen, a bio-science technician with the base. “It’s a run and gunner and it made its way into the water.”
The turtles first began showing up at Bellows in April to lay their eggs, which Marine Corps officials said they’ve never seen before.
The tranquility of the beach during the pandemic may have enticed them to come ashore, they said.
Experts also think that some of the turtles may have migrated to Bellows because parts of their original nesting grounds at the French Frigate Shoals were damaged by a hurricane two years ago.
Sea-level rise may have also played a role.
“I believe they’re traveling back to find beaches that are not in the water being inundated by the tide,” said Lance Bookless, Senior Natural Resources Manager for Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Along with the dozen nests at Bellows, several other nests were discovered at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s North Beach in July. Three more nests were also located at MCBH’s Fort Hase Beach, on the Kailua side of the base.
Marines Corps officials said that once they began discovering the nests, they roped off the areas and placed signs warning beach goers about the turtle nests.
About 20 to 30 volunteers also pitched in to help monitor the turtles.
“Turtle nesting is not even over yet. It actually goes into October, so we can potentially still some turtles come to shore and still nest,” said Bookless.