Weekly Summary--Week 7 (03/08/17)

Chop suey week

From our TDR (Time-Depth Recorder) research with George Balazs, we know that the Honokowai turtles are nocturnal feeders. That means their rest times are during the day and the reefs they rest on are their "bedrooms."

In last week's summary we wrote, "The females are now Home. One by one we've sighted them. Tutu. U249. 605C. McTaggert. This week, Shredder made her first appearance..."

All these females have an important job to do in their nesting off-season. They must eat and rest and do all the things necessary to prepare for new eggs to develop inside them."

With so many females present this summer we made it our policy to limit our dives here and stuck mostly to quick surveys.

This week, Daniel and his dad arrived. To leave the reef to them and minimize the disruption for the turtles, we didn't dive in the mornings and not at all on three days.

As a result, this is the first time since we started weekly summaries back in 1996, we have:

No underwater report for Honokowai!

Above-water report

Instead of diving in the mornings, we kept ourselves busy by renting a kayak and doing above-water surveys. With the gusty trades most of this week, conditions were far less than ideal--but hey, sacrifices have to be made.

The good news is that these challenging conditions provided us with both exercise and practice. We gained confidence in our abilities to work with a kayak, and in the end, that was probably the most important reward we reaped this week.

We managed to identify some of the honu as they broke for air. This is Malama.

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We saw (and identified) a male and female honu actively engaged in turtle-like behaviours.


Over Lanai, we saw the full moon setting into the pink of the dawn.

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Of course, we didn't stick to mornings. At sunset, we had the best seat in the house.


Kuamo'o report

As already mentioned, we made only four afternoon dives all week at Honokowai. We used the time to visit our alternate dive site of Kuamo'o. The place is full of surprises.

We already reported seeing a male turtle with a tag K808, who we know from our own dive site. This week to our delight we met two more Honokowai honu.

One was the male with missing left front flipper, who we sighted earlier this summer foraging at Napili Bay in front of the Gazebo Restaurant. He was resting under a ledge in about 20 feet of water. We recognized him immediately, and he cooperatively posed for his portrait with Ursula.

Ursula and an old friend. Ursula is the blonde.

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Most surprising, however, was sighting a large tagged female. Peter read a tag in the U36- series and videotaped the turtle. Later, we pulled up our database and matched her profile to that of Kimo, a turtle we knew back in 1993.

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Kimo, tag U-362, at Kuamo'o.


When we first met Kimo, she was the most heavily tumor-afflicted turtle we'd met. Later, we saw much worse, but with our limited understanding back then, we thought she was a turtle with no future. Now we know that when we met her, she was already recovering. The clue is in her eyes. Despite the heavy tumors around the mouth and neck, she was already getting better. Today, you would have to look closely to know that she had ever had tumors. Kimo is easily the worst case of FP that we know has recovered. She's a really special honu.

Kimo (U362), K808, and the male with the missing left front flipper prove that turtles do get around. Best of all, Kimo proved that you can have a nasty case of fibropapilloma and not only recover--but migrate the 500 miles it takes to get to East Island and nest.

George Balazs et al visit

Since the power failure in the northeast messed up our server, delaying this update for a day, we're able to report on another happy event. At the end of this week, George Balazs decided to pay us a visit along with University of Queensland student Karen Arthur and her friend Myles. Karen visited us last summer and so it was truly wonderful to see her again. We share her keen interest in sea turtle forage. (You might know it as seaweed.)

For the first time ever, we took George to dive somewhere else other than our dive site here at Honokowai. We visited the new ohana of turtles at our alternate study site that we call Kuamo'o.

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A clever honu uses a hollow in the reef to hide from George (background).


Because Kuamo'o is so shallow (at its deepest are sand flats at 25 feet or so) it's easy to spend two hours on a single tank. We saw about three dozen turtles of all size classes. It's clear that with each visit, these Kuamo'o honu are getting used to our presence.

On the beach at the end of the dive, George expressed his delight at this new research opportunity--so many turtles in such a small area, in such shallow water.

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George waxes enthusiastic to Ursula over the new study site, while Karen walks a sample bag up the beach.


We collected Lyngbya (the little we could find) for Karen's research. We also collected some turtle turds (well, you knew we would) for immediate analysis on the beach.

Karen and Ursula look on as George tests a fecal sample for evidence of blood.

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After all that, we just enjoyed each other's company. Karen and George, with the help of Myles, will continue with research in Kaneohe Bay and on Molokai next week. We too must return our attention to our work--and (ugh!) our exercise.

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George, Myles, Karen, and Peter at the post-dive debriefing.


Week 8 Summary
Summer of '03 at Honokowai
Turtle Happenings
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
Table of Contents
Last modified 03/08/23
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