“Excuse me, ma’am. Please stop!” the volunteer shouted to a woman who was oblivious to the fact that she was about to walk into a turtle.
“Oh, I am just trying to get over there,” the woman responded while pointing in the general direction in front of herself.
She almost took another step and the volunteer shouted at her again, this time informing her that a turtle was mere inches away from her feet.
The woman gasped while looking down at the turtle minding its own business sunbathing. If she had been wearing pearls, I am sure she would have clutched them.
We were at Laniakea Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. We came for the purpose of seeing a turtle or two, as I am sure the other people there were. This beach is known for green sea turtles, or honu, that come and sunbathe that many people call it “Turtle Beach.” Even if you didn’t know this, the turtles usually have a large half-ring of rope around them so that people do not get too close to them. Volunteers do this to protect the turtles and to educate the community about the turtles.
As luck would have it, we saw three turtles this day in February. I thought it was quite lucky anyway because I have been to this beach a few times in the past and have not seen a single turtle.
My baby just stared when we saw the first turtle. (The one that the woman nearly ran into.) My baby loves animals and “knows” turtles so I think she was just taking it all in and observing at first. She didn’t say anything for a few minutes. At 90 pounds, this turtle was a juvenile with an approximate age of 15-18 years old. Green sea turtles live on average of 50 years with some even living to 80, so this one was definitely a “baby.” My baby of course saw a huge turtle in front of her and called it, “mama turtle.”
“Hi, mama turtle!”
We saw two other turtles on the beach, both adults and weighing approximately 250 pounds with an average age of 50+! No, I am not a turtle expert. I only know these things about the turtles because the volunteers set up little posts that describe the turtles that are out visiting that day. They name the ones that come back to the beach multiple times and for ongoing years. For instance, the juvenile turtle was named Makana (meaning “gift” in Hawaiian) in August 2018 after making regular appearances at the beach from August to December 2017 and returning in April 2018. (Oh, and green sea turtles reach sexual maturity at 25-35 years old so it is unknown at this time if Makana is male or female since its 15-18 years old.)
Laniakea is definitely not a beach to go to just “hang out” and swim at. The waves are really rough and there are even signs that say “no swimming” (which of course a few young tourists ignored.) But, if you want to see some turtles, it makes for a fun outing to see and learn about them — and to teach your kid about respecting the animals’ space. By the end, my baby really liked waving hi and bye to the turtles.
“Bye, mama turtles!”