Howzit was a teeny turtle when we met him in 1992. We meet a lot of turtles every summer, but Howzit stood out right from the beginning. He had large alert eyes, and we loved how active he was.
Howzit was a teeny turtle when we met him in 1992.
Howzit was a curious turtle. He had to swim over and see everything for himself. He would swim here and there, and hover and fuss until he got tired. Then he would approach his favourite resting spot. Finally, he would swim around in two or three circles before landing. This behaviour always reminded us of what puppies do before they lie down.
Howzit would then settle and rest. Only when he was really, really tired would Howzit close those alert eyes.
Howzit would then settle and rest.
We saw Howzit almost every day in the summer of 1992, and we were delighted to see him regularly in 1993. That year, however, we were already starting to worry about him.
In the summer of 1994 there was no doubt Howzit was getting sick. He had spots on his neck and shoulders, the kind we call "salt and pepper". These spots are usually followed by tumors. Worse, something was happening to both his eyes. A large white spot also grew on his neck and we weren't sure what that was. We were afraid what the next year would bring.
In 1995, we first saw Howzit on our morning dive of July 5th. It was our fifth of the summer. Howzit was in his favourite spot. Even from a distance we could make out his tumors. We expected this, but we simply weren't prepared for how skinny he was. Scientists call this kind of skinny "emaciation." For Howzit, it meant he was slowly starving to death.
He was slowly starving to death.
There was lots of seaweed and algae where we dive--more than he could ever eat. So getting enough food wasn't the problem. We knew it had to be something else.
Although we couldn't see them, we believed that Howzit had tumors inside him. Scientists call these internal tumors. Internal tumors can block eating and digestion. We think that is what happened to Howzit.
His eyes now had tumors in them. The tumor on his left eye pushed his eyeball forward. It hurt us to see Howzit like this. He was also weak and spent most of his time sleeping. The only time he would swim was to get some air. This was not normal for Howzit or any healthy young turtle.
He was also weak and spent most of his time sleeping.
We said our goodbyes to Howzit on our last dive in 1995.
The Turtle House in Honokowai, West Maui, is a special world where we get to learn a lot about turtles. We have met turtle friends whom we have grown to love and care about. But Howzit carved himself a permanent place in our hearts and minds.
Howzit gave us laughter and plenty to talk about. It's true that in the end, he made us cry, but he left us with a Big Puzzle too.
How could a little turtle leave such a big hole in our ocean?
The Turtle House won't ever be the same. Howzit doesn't live here any more.
Howzit doesn't live here any more.
Why Howzit Is Dying
Howzit [1992 Turtle 3]
How You Can Help
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