Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii

In Hawaii’s azure waters, the green sea turtle, known affectionately as “Honu,” embodies grace and endurance. These turtles, symbols of longevity, thrive in the nurturing marine ecosystem of Hawaii, offering insights into their fascinating biology and cultural significance. They also highlight the urgent need for conservation in the face of mounting challenges.

Biological Splendor

The green sea turtle is a natural marvel. With a heart-shaped, streamlined carapace and colors ranging from dark hues to vibrant greens, they command awe in their oceanic realm. Adult green sea turtles can grow up to 4 feet and weigh between 300-350 pounds, showcasing their grandeur.

Their diet evolves from omnivorous in youth, including marine flora and small invertebrates, to predominantly herbivorous as adults, favoring seagrasses and algae. These turtles mature sexually after 20 to 50 years, embarking on long migratory journeys to their birthplace to nest. The cyclical journey of these turtles, from hatching on the beaches to returning for nesting, is a millennia-old ritual, with hatchlings’ perilous dash to the sea being one of nature’s most poignant spectacles.

In the Hawaiian Culture

In Hawaiian culture, the Honu transcends its physical presence, symbolizing good fortune, endurance, and longevity. Hawaiian myths and legends are replete with turtle references, often portraying them as ‘aumakua or guardian spirits. Ancient petroglyphs etched in lava rock bear witness to the deep connection between the Hawaiian people and these magnificent creatures.

Challenges Facing Green Sea Turtles

Despite their size and revered status, green sea turtles face numerous threats.

Fishing Nets

Accidental entanglement often leads to severe injuries or death.


Ingested plastic debris causes internal harm and blockages.

Climate Change

Temperature shifts affect hatchling sex ratios, disrupting population balance.

Habitat Destruction

Coastal development and human interference threaten nesting sites.

Conservation Efforts for the Honu

Hawaii leads in green sea turtle conservation.

Protected Areas

Establishing marine sanctuaries to safeguard turtle habitats.


Enforcing laws under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Hawaii state law to protect turtles.

Rescue and Rehabilitation

Dedicated organizations aid in the recovery and release of injured turtles.

Turtle Canyon: A Sanctuary for the Honu

Turtle Canyon, off Waikiki’s coast, is a sanctuary for green sea turtles. As a snorkeling hotspot, it offers unique glimpses into the Honu’s world. The warm, shallow waters create a nurturing environment for feeding and resting turtles, often spotted by snorkelers and divers.

Educational Programs

Instructing visitors on respectful wildlife interaction.

Research and Monitoring

Studying turtle populations to inform conservation strategies.

Habitat Preservation

Maintaining coral reefs and clean waters for turtle habitation.

The Turtle Canyon Experience

Visiting Turtle Canyon is more than a wildlife encounter. It’s an immersion in nature and an education in marine conservation. It highlights the balance between human activity and wildlife habitats, urging visitors to advocate for marine life protection.

Turtle Canyon’s story mirrors the broader narrative of green sea turtle conservation in Hawaii, showcasing how respectful coexistence can aid wildlife survival. Such examples inspire global conservation efforts, ensuring the Honu’s continued presence in Hawaii and beyond.