All sea turtles whether dead or alive are legally protected in Hawaii
Surfers on the west side of Oahu, Hawaii, last week came across a dead, mutilated green sea turtle that was left on the popular Tracks surfing beach. The turtle, which is a protected species dead or alive, had its shell ripped off and its organs were exposed, according to KHON TV. A rope was tied around one of its flippers.
“I go, what is that lump on the beach? It looks like a rock. I said, wait a minute, that’s not a rock. Turtles don’t look like turtles without the shell, when they’re all beat up,” said Richard Campbell.
“They took the shell off. It was all jagged, left it here to die. It was dead. It was laying here with external organs exposed,” Eric Nakahuma told KHON reporter Brigette Namata.
The surfers, not knowing what to do, gave the turtle a proper burial on the beach, but that is not what they should have done, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We do find that some people take it upon themselves to bury the turtles, but we do prefer they give us a call, even if they want to do it anonymously, and it helps with our research as well,” Shandell Brunson, NOAA’s sea turtle stranding coordinator told KHON.
The images of the mutilated sea turtle are so gruesome that KHON had to blur out the areas of the image that showed the exposed organs of the turtle.
Most Hawaiians know that it is illegal to touch or harass sea turtles, but tourists are often unaware that sea turtles are a protected species.
If you find a dead or stranded sea turtle anywhere in Hawaii, contact NOAA. Here are the numbers.
- Oahu: (808) 725-5730
- Maui • Kihei: (808286-2549 • Other areas: (808286-2899
- Hawaii Island • Hilo: (808286-4359 • Kohala-Kona: (808881-4200 • Kona: (808327-6226 • Molokai: (808533-5190
- Sea turtle/conservation law enforcement issues: 800-853-1964