Honu Heaven

 

Ten minutes from home is a National Historical Park called Kaloko-Honokohau, just north of Kona’s marina. The beach at Kaloko-Honokohau is one of our favorite places. Nice sand, good shade and calm water in the little bay. And a quarter mile up the beach, past lava rocks with petroglyphs, is Aimakapa Pond, which was created by the ancient Hawaiians and stocked with food fish. The pond is a great birding site, with endangered Hawaiian Stilts, Hawaiian Coots, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons almost always on view. In March, we saw the first recorded sighting ever in the islands of an Elegant Tern on the pond.

But one of the reasons this is a favorite place is the “honu” population here. Honu is the Hawaiian word for turtle, and we have never failed to see at least three green sea turtles feeding on the sea lettuce in the shallows  or hauled up on the sandy beach sunning themselves. Today, we broke our record and counted 28 of the wonderful creatures here. Signs around the island advise “Malama na Honu,” “Protect the turtles,” and suggest you stay at least 15 feet away from them. Even with the signs, and the fact that the green sea turtle is listed as endangered, some swimmers and beachgoers  go right up to them to pet them. The turtles around Kailua-Kona generally stay very calm around humans and are not dangerous. But we would love to see people actually grow up enough to give them some space. They’re attempting to remove green sea turtles from the list of endangered species. If you encounter any sites online, sign a petition or donate or do whatever you can to protect them.

This fabulous island is rich in plant and animal life, and many of them are on endangered lists. There are hundreds of ancient sites in the islands that are sacred to the Hawaiian people. Laurel and I like to be counted as two malahini who respect the traditions and the natural balance of our new home.

Aloha

(All photos by Laurel Scott)

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