Hawaiian Sea Turtles

Hawaiian Sea Turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act and Hawaii State law!

Please respect and protect these amazing animals. Mahalo!

Download the Species Reporting Form, Endangered & Invasive Report Form to report Hawaiian Sea Turtle nests and Hawaiian Monk Seal sightings.

Sea Turtle-Nesting Season

April – September,
most active in June – July

Sea Turtle Hatchling Season

July – December

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (honu) are the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world, and are native to the Hawaiian Islands.

For more information: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/species/sea-turtles/

Green Sea Turtle

Hawaiian name: honu
Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas

Hawksbill Turtle

Hawaiian name: honeu’ea or ‘ea
Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata

The Green Sea Turtle is most frequently observed. The easiest way to tell the difference between the Green Sea Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle is that the Hawksbill has a sharper beak (hence the name).

What to do if you see a nesting turtle or hatchlings on the beach:

NO FLASH: DO NOT use a flash when taking pictures of turtle nestings.

DARK CLOTHING: Wear dark clothing and use only ambient light (natural light, starlight, moonlight) while sitting on the beach at night.

NIGHT VISION SCOPE & RED FILTER LIGHT: Night-vision scopes or flashlights with a red filter may be used to observe sea turtles from a distance at night. Use of artificial lights for video or still photography is PROHIBITED.

RESPECT FENCED AREAS: These may contain vulnerable nesting sites.

SILENCE: Noises can frighten or disrupt the turtle.

50 FEET: Individuals must stay a minimum of 50 feet away from a nesting female AT ALL TIMES, including as she returns to the ocean.

CLEAR PATH: Maintain a clear path for the nesting female to return back to the ocean. DO NOT impede or detain a turtle hatchling on its way to the sea. DO NOT get into the water with the hatchlings. They have a limited amount of stored energy that will be used to evade predators, swim out to open water, and their next meal.

LIGHT DISORIENTATION: Coastal lighting deters nesting females from coming ashore to nest, and disorients hatchlings when they navigate to the sea. Any artificial light source (photography/videography flash, flashlights, headlamps, exterior building lights) can disorient hatchlings. This is a major threat to hatchling survival.


If you see a nesting turtle or hatchlings on Bellows AFS, please call Security Forces/Law Enforcement (808) 448-4916 or (808) 259-4200.

For nesting turtles or hatchlings on MCTAB beach (public camping), call the Hawai’i Marine Animal Response (HMAR) hotline 1-(888) 256-9840.