Grant To Help Monitor, Protect Hawksbill Turtles At Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

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A federally endangered female honu‘ea (hawksbill turtle) heads back to sea/NPS

The hawksbill turtle, an endangered species, will receive some help from a National Park Foundation grant that will support efforts at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park to protect the reptile and improve its habitat at the park.

The $19,200 grant will assist park efforts to protect the hawksbill turtle, known as the honu‘ea in Hawaiian, by supporting 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. Student biologists and individuals from the community will assist as volunteers and remove invasive woody plants such as koa haole that are encroaching onto beaches, as well as relocate nests to prevent damage to fragile eggs from high surf and overcrowding. While monitoring turtle activity, volunteers assist stranded females and hatchlings, and provide on-site information of park recovery efforts to beachgoers.

“The honu‘ea is a much beloved sea turtle in Hawai‘i and it would be tragic to see this animal disappear from our shores. 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,” said Dr. Rhonda Loh, chief of natural resources management for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Now in its seventh year, the Impact Grants program provides national parks with the critical financial support they need to transform innovative, yet underfunded, ideas into successful in-park programs and initiatives.

“Through our Impact Grants, we will help make a profound difference in our national parks by providing much-needed funding for projects that support habitat restoration, wildlife protection, and conservation research,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation.