Green Sea Turtles Hatch at PMRF

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Green Sea Turtles Hatch at PMRF

A newly hatched green sea turtle. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

A newly hatched green sea turtle. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

A green sea turtle nest a quarter mile south of Shenanigan’s All Hands Club on the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kaua‘i’s Westside, hatched on the evening of July 19, according to a PMRF press release.

Tracks were discovered leading from the nest to the ocean on the afternoon of 20 July 20, and at least two more distinct fresh sets of tracks were identified on the following, indicating late hatchlings. The nest is possibly that of a green sea turtle.

PMRF Installation Environmental Program Director John Nelson and Rebecca Johnson along with Don Heacock, a state biologist from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, excavated the nest on July 23, resulting in 63 eggshells counted/collected from the nest.

Excavation was conducted by Rebecca Johnson and State Biologist Don Heacock at approximately 1730 on 23 July 2016 and resulted in

State biologist Don Heacock examines a green sea turtle eggshell. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

State biologist Don Heacock examines a green sea turtle eggshell. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

One unhatched egg was also found, which was scheduled to be sent to a lab for DNA analysis to link the nest to a certain female in the population. No live turtles were found during the excavation. Heacock said a young, smaller female could have likely laid this nest with the below average clutch size. According to egg size and color, Heacock confirmed it was a nest from a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

PMRF Security personnel found the nest May 25 during a routine beach survey, and reported their finding to Environmental Wildlife Technician, Rachel Herring. Herring worked with Jason Shimauchi, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services installing a fence line around the nest to protect it from pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The nest hatched at 57 days, just shy of the 60-day average seen in Hawai‘i.

Turtle tracks on the beach at  PMRF. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

Turtle tracks on the beach at PMRF. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Johnson

Sea turtles are frequently seen basking at the outpouring of Nohili Ditch, also known as Turtle Cove on the north side of PMRF as well as in other areas around the base. PMRF is an ideal location for nesting turtles due to its expansive miles of relatively intact, unpopulated sandy beaches, low vehicle traffic and nighttime activity. In 2015, seven nests produced a total of 468 sea turtle hatchlings.

PMRF works closely with federal and state agencies, schools, conservation organizations, the public and the host community to implement groundbreaking initiatives towards conservation, environmental protection and the protection of endangered species. PMRF is the recipient of the 2015 Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Award as well as the 2015 Secretary of the Navy Environmental Award for its achievements in environmental stewardship.

By | 2016-11-10T05:40:28+00:00 July 29th, 2016|0 Comments

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

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