Park Gets More Hawksbill Protection Funds
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of 23 national parks selected to receive a 2014 Impact Grant from the National Park Foundation to help protect the federally endangered hawksbill turtle, known as the honu‘ea in Hawaiian.
The $19,200 grant will support park volunteers who monitor nesting beaches, rescue distressed females, eggs and hatchlings, improve habitat and provide information to beachgoers along the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island.
Loss of nesting habitat caused by beach erosion and invasive plants threatens the future of the honu‘ea on the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island, said a HVNP release. Student biologists and community volunteers remove invasive woody plants such as koa haole that are encroaching on beaches and relocate nests to prevent damage to fragile eggs from high surf and crowding.
“The honu‘ea is a much beloved turtle in Hawai‘i and it would be tragic to see this animal disappear from our shores,” said Dr. Rhonda Loh, Chief of Natural Resources Management for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
“We’re very excited to work with the National Park Foundation to restore nesting habitat. In addition to helping to protect the turtle, we’ll also be providing valuable training and experience to students interested in pursuing careers in conservation biology,” Loh said.
Park biologists and volunteers are currently in the midst of hawksbill monitoring season, which runs from May through December. Highlights from the 2014 season so far include:
— 10 honu ēa documented along the southern shores of Hawai‘i Island, six returnees and four newly tagged
— The return of a female that had not been documented since 2005.
— 21 nests confirmed at four beaches, including two within the national park, ‘Āpua Point and Halapē.