There are two main types of sea turtles found in the Hawaiian waters… the Green Sea Turtle
and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Honu’ea).
Both are protected under state and federal laws. TheGreen sea turtle population has grown significantly, however the Hawksbill population has not.
Most of the Hawksbill nests are found on certain beaches on Hawaii Island, whereas the Green turtle nests are found mostly on the French Frigate Islands. The Green turtles come up on the each to rest, but the Hawksbill do not. The female Hawksbill only comes on shore to lay eggs after reaching an age of 20-29. The males never come on shore.
I’ve been participating with a volunteer group that keeps an eye out for new nests, so that they can be protected from predators…mongoose, rats, cats, etc. It’s not often easy to tell the difference between the Green and the Hawksbill, but one sure way is to observe the pre-frontal scales. The Green will have 2 pre-frontal scales, and the Hawksbill will have 4.
On my ipu, I placed 4 tiny yellow Swarovski crystals on the turtle image to indicate my intention that this gourd be dedicated to the Hawksbill. On the back of this ipu is a quilting pattern that depicts the naupaka bushes that are abundant on the Hawaiian beaches. The Hawksbill female will crawl with determination and persistence to find the “right” spot under the naupaka to dig her nest… a nest that may be up to three feet deep, and where she will lay an average of 180 eggs!