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Turtles at Punaluu


Sea turtles are gentle reptiles that spend the majority of their lives in the ocean. Females reach reproductive age after 35 to 40 years, and only then return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs for the next generation. Although a female may lay hundreds of eggs in one season, only a few of the hatchlings will survive to reach maturity. There are three species of sea turtles native to the Hawaiian Islands: the Green, the Hawksbill, and the Leatherback. These fascinating creatures have played important roles in the environment and culture of Hawaii's people. Of the three native sea turtles, the Green Turtle (Honu) is the most common. These turtles, which can weigh up to 400 pounds, are primarily vegetarians. They eat algae or limu (Hawaiian seaweed) growing underwater on coral reefs and on rocks close to shore. Green turtles prefer to live near large "pastures" of limu that are located in near shore waters around the Hawaiian Islands. The carapaces (upper shells) of adults are dark with olive or gold flecks and receive their name from the color of their body fat rather than their shell color.

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