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Creature Feature: Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

June 26, 2020

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known to native Hawaiians as honu, is a very popular species of sea turtle mostly because of its large size and notable characteristics. Seeing one out and about is rare, but in Maui, your chances of experiencing them in their natural habitat are quite high. The green sea turtle is the most commonly encountered turtle on the reefs of Hawaii and is truly a spectacle. Learn more about this unique marine animal below!

Learn More About the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

At about 3-4 feet long and 300-350 pounds, the Hawaiian green sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. And due to the ingestion of marine debris and the quick deterioration of its foraging sites, the green sea turtle has been added to the endangered species list. Luckily though, recent laws have helped slow the extinction of these creatures, and more green sea turtles have been recorded swimming around the island of Maui.

Green sea turtles got their name, not from the color of their shell, but the color of their underbellies because green sea turtles are herbivores and eat large amounts of seagrasses and algae, which often turn their undersides green.

hawaiian green sea turtle

PC: Maui Ocean Center

Diving with Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii

Diving with Hawaiian green sea turtles is a dream come true for many divers. Their rare appearance makes them a desirable sea creature to stumble upon, as does their fun and easy-going personality. If you’re lucky, you can see a green sea turtle relaxing on land, but if you’re really lucky, you can spot a honu swimming along the shores of Maui.

Turtle Town is a popular site to catch Hawaiian green sea turtles, and it can be found on Maui’s southside in Makena. Thanks to the lava tubes formed on the ocean floor here, coral reefs have grown and thrived in this area, which is perfect for sea turtles. This diving spot is mostly sheltered from strong winds that provide calm waters and generally safe diving conditions.

Another popular spot to dive with sea turtles in Maui is off of the westside beach at Olowalu. Here you’ll find the Coral Gardens where you can observe turtles being cleaned at turtle cleaning stations by other fish in the reef.

And finally, we have Honolua. This location is intended for more experienced divers due to the windy and wavy conditions. However, this is a very popular dive site because of the abundance of marine life - including Hawaiian green sea turtles - that explore here.

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