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Scientists ask public to help track Hawaii green sea turtles

Updated: 
September 18, 2017 - 12:05am

HONOLULU — Scientists are asking the public for help tracking green sea turtles as they return to Hawaiian islands after their nesting season.

The sightings will help them identify where the marine mammals hang out and forage, said T. Todd Jones, a lead scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters on Friday.

Administration workers have tagged 500 green sea turtles.

People can identify the turtles known to frequent Big Island, Maui and Kauai because numbers have been written on their shells with nontoxic white spray paint that will fade in months.

“The interesting thing now is with these identifiers is if the turtles are reported, we’re going to make these connections to viable nesting females in the population,” Jones said.

The researchers can also track a few sea turtles with a handful of satellite tags, but officials said the high-tech tracking equipment is expensive. By having the public help track the sea turtles, researchers can save money and help educate the public on conservation efforts.

The information will help officials better protect important habitats for the sea turtles and is especially important for the nesting females, said Irene Kelly, the administration’s sea turtle recovery coordinator.

People are being asked to stay at least 10 feet away from the turtles.

If you see a numbered turtle, call and report it to NOAA at (888) 256-9840.

This is a new statewide marine animal reporting hotline that can be used to report sightings or emergencies for sea turtles, monk seals, dolphins, and whales.

You can also email RespectWildlife@noaa.gov.

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