Hawaiian Sea Turtles (Honu)
I went snorkeling on the Mahana Naia Snorkel excursion to Molokini and Turtle Reef recently and took this video with my new underwater camera. The suns rays were on the otehr side or the boat and only me and this turtle were swimming on this side of the Mahana Naia. I kept having to push myself backwards to avid coaliding witht the Turtle!
Sea turtles are the true ancients of the world. The honu (Sea turtle) comes from a time when the earth was young; Turtles are believed to have been swimming the oceans for 150-200 million years! They lived through the age of the dinosaurs, & even survived the earth's age of ice.
Ancient Hawaiians were animists and believed that their Aumakua or guardian spirits could take the shape of any animal. These guardians were also viewed as the embodiment of their ancestors.
The green Hawaiian turtle is the only indigenous reptile to the Hawaiian Islands & is revered as a sacred symbol of the life force. Like a lot of things, turtle meat could only be consumed by the royalty or ali’i for its attributes of longevity and endurance.
In Chinese mythology, the sea turtle represents wisdom. In Hawaii, legend tells about a green sea turtle, Kauila, who could change herself into a girl to watch over the children playing at Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island. The turtle has always had held special meaning to the Hawaiians.
The ancient Hawaiians used every bit of the honu – its flesh and cartilage were made into soup or stew and even the internal organs were cooked and eaten Its shell was broken into pieces for tools, such as fish-hooks and as an instrument to scrape the bark off the paper mulberry tree or wauke. The bark was then used to make the tapas cloth. The skin of the honu was made into leather.
The honu was also presented as an offering to Kanaloa, the God of the Ocean, who was also believed to assume the shape of the honu when he needed a physical form.
Hawaii's popular green sea turtle, grows up to 45 inches and can weigh as much as 200 to 400 pounds by the time it reaches sexual maturity at the average age of 25 years. When they reach 25-30 years old, most Hawaiian green sea turtles will migrate hundreds of miles to the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands during the late spring and summer months. Females will generally make the voyage once every two or three years, males every one to two.
The nesting ritual of the sea turtle is as ancient as it is unique, and to involved to mention in our Insiders Scoop. I get a lot of info from www.coffeetimes.com and other web sites on ancient Hawaiian life.
Todays Green Sea Turtles are now getting ready to be taken off of the Endangered Species list. Snorkelers snorkeling or diving off the Hawaiian Islands have a great chance of seeing these giant sea turtles close up. Many of the Molokini Snorkel Boats go to "Turtle Town" to veiw and snorkel with these Honu.
I was on the Mahana Naia 1 day when the Photographer on board took this photo of me and the Turtle. It is illegal to actually touch the Turtles.