Makana [1998 Turtle 57]

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That was then (inset, 1998) and this is now (2000).

Quickstats: Seen 1998, 1999, 2000. Summer updates: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

We first sighted Makana on July 9, 1998. Our logs read:

Possible recruit, very clean beautifully streaked shell with several white algae spots.

That summer we saw Makana on practically every dive. She made her home under a narrow ledge just large enough to accommodate her. At first, she'd lift and leave as soon as we came into view. It took several "meetings" before we managed to get both left and right profiles, and therefore a way of identifying her in future years.

Finally, one wonderful day, she was out by her ledge, enjoying the Maui sun and rocking in the swells. We approached, enthralled, and she allowed us near. Trust.

Like all young honu, this turtle was cute. Cute is how all honu start out.

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This turtle was cute


As soon as we got back to our apartment, we went to our Hawaiian dictionary. We typically do this when we decide a honu should be named.

Because 1998 was a special year, we named 1998 Turtle 57 Makana, Hawaiian for "gift." We saw Makana as a gift from the Shoals, the nesting grounds for the Hawaiian green sea turtle. 1998 marked the 25th Anniversary of the tagging programme there, initiated by pioneer researcher George H. Balazs.

Since naming her, we've had many enjoyable interactions with Makana. Yet there is sadness.

We knew that if Makana stayed at Honokowai, she, like all the other "recruits" (the very young who settle into an area), would become sick with fibropapilloma tumors within two to three years.

Then, like all the other youngsters before her, Makana's condition will worsen and she too will disappear from our lives.

Summer 1999 Update

The effect of fibropapilloma disease on young turtles is depressingly predictable. We resighted Makana on our first dive of the summer of 1999. Our logs say:

Sighted 990702 at 6:45 am at her usual location. Sighted 990704 pm dive and PAB got excellent close video of right eye. Something happening posterior

There was something worrisome in the posterior of her eyes, and we grew more worried as the weeks went by. We feared that Makana was showing the earliest unmistakeable signs of tumors in both her eyes.

By the end of the summer, we were so sure that what we were seeing was early symptoms of fibropapilloma that we listed Makana--"gift" from the nesting grounds--as "pre-eruptive." We did this based only on the appearance of her eyes, but she was showing other white blemishes elsewhere--also harbingers of the disease.

We listed Makana "pre-eruptive" based on the appearance of her eyes

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And worse?

A new little turtle swam into our lives--clearly a playmate of Makana's if their games of rough-and-tumble were any indication.

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Games of rough-and-tumble


Now we had two young honu to worry about.

Summer 2000 Update

What is there to say?

Given how rapidly Makana has gone downhill between August 1999 and July 2000 we will be surprised to see Makana in Summer 2001.

Summer 2001 Update

We did not see Makana in 2001.

Summer 2002 Update

We did not see Makana in 2002. We believe Makana is dead.

Summer 2003 Update

We did not see Makana in 2003.

Summer 2004 Update

We did not see Makana in 2004.

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Last modified 04/09/11
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