Sea turtle population does well during lava

  • An aerial shot of Mackenzie Beach Park on Nov. 16, 2018. After completing two aerial surveys, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund found turtles appeared to be in higher numbers outside of the lava ocean entry areas, likely staying near the food sources that were not covered or “scrubbed” by new sand and wave interactions. (Hawaii Wildlife Fund/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Surveys appear to show sea turtles fared well during the recent Kilauea Volcano eruption.

During the nearly four-month eruption that began in May 2018 three months of active lava ocean entry from Fissure 8, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund learned reports were being made of large numbers of sea turtles that had been stranded or trapped as a result of the eruption.

Surveys completed by state and federal agencies found no turtles in distress, but some community members continued to report and share otherwise on social media platforms. Because of this apparent discrepancy, the foundation said it saw the need for a third party to conduct additional surveys.

After completing two aerial surveys, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund found turtles appeared to be in higher numbers outside of the lava ocean entry areas, likely staying near the food sources that were not covered or “scrubbed” by new sand and wave interactions.

Also, they found no evidence that large numbers of turtles were stranded or killed by lava flow, although there were obviously some tragedies. Turtle experts that were interviewed believe that most turtles would simply swim away from the lava impacted areas.

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