> Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project
> HWF Honu Watch Project
> Hawaiian Monk Seal projects
> Makai Watch
> Hawai'i Island Marine Debris Removal
> Maui Marine Debris Removal Project
> Adopt-A-Highway on Maui Project
> Waiohinu – Ka`u Forest Reserve Protection
> Managing Better Together Learning Network
> Maui Reef Fund
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project
HWF has been conducting research and monitoring the nesting activities of hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) since 1996.
There are fewer than 100 adult female hawksbills known to nest in all of Hawai‘i. The species is listed as endangered in Hawai‘i and worldwide
and needs our protection. Through conservation efforts, public awareness, beachfront lighting reductions, fence repairs, dune restoration,
beach cleanups, radio and satellite telemetry, coordination of a Turtle Watch program,
and determining in-water distribution and abundance, HWF is helping to
save hawksbills and their nesting habitats.
> VOLUNTEER WITH HWF
HWF Honu Watch Project
Through its Honu Watch program, Hawaii Wildlife Fund monitors basking
honu (turtles) to educate the community about
the phenomenon called "basking," a rare behavior in which green sea turtles crawl ashore
for reasons other than nesting. No other species of sea turtles are
known to bask and the behavior
has been documented
only in Hawai'i and Australia.
Basking turtles are common in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands but
are seen on a more limited basis around the main Hawaiian Islands,
which is where HWF's Honu Watchers help protect the turtles.
are especially vulnerable while basking on shore. Possible reasons
for the behavior are that basking allows turtles to rest, raise their body temperature and/or to avoid predators (sharks).
There may be other health-related benefits that are currently not understood, possibly linked to
fibropapillomatosis, so it's important that the basking
turtles are never disturbed.
Show turtles aloha. Please report baskers by calling 808-643-3567 so that their health can be assessed,
and do not approach closer than 15 feet (5 meters).
Flash photography disturbs them, so please take pictures without flash. Dogs can injure turtles, so please keep them leashed.
> JOIN OUR TURTLE TEAM
> HWF TURTLE BROCHURE (PDF)
> NOAA TURTLE SIGN (JPG)
> HWF BASKING HONU SIGN (JPG)
Hawaiian Monk Seal projects
From 1996 to 2007, HWF voluntarily coordinated the Monk Seal Watch on Maui, educating the
public and protecting monk seal "haulouts". After one year of
service as HWF's Monk Seal Watch Coordinator, Nicole Davis was hired through the National Marine Fisheries Service to continue this work with federal
funding and to coordinate strandings on Maui. Volunteers with the Monk Seal Watch create a "safety zone" around hauled out seals, marking the area with
yellow tape and standing guard to ensure the animals are not disturbed.
- HWF is currently assisting National Marine Fisheries Service in establishing a Main Hawaiian Islands photo ID catalogue.
- HWF's co-founder, Bill Gilmartin, coordinated the relocation of aggressive male monk seals from the Northwestern Islands to the Main Hawaiian Islands
in an effort to reduce the "mobbing" of females by males during breeding.
- HWF conducted monk seal research on Midway Atoll for three years in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The resulting data are used by the
National Marine Fisheries Service to assist in the recovery of this unique and endangered species.
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Watch is a coastal area monitoring and protection initiative that
grew from a collaborative effort of community organizations,
volunteers, conservation groups and state agencies. Now officially
sanctioned by the State of Hawaii, Makai Watch works to restore and
sustain Hawaii's coastal resources through community involvement.
The goal of Makai Watch is to enhance the management of near-shore
marine resources by providing community members opportunities to
become directly involved in this management.
In 2003, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund established Maui's first Makai
Watch at Ahihi Kina'u Natural Area Reserve and Keoneo'i'o.
In 2009, The state ranger’s program replaced Makai Watch there. HWF is
currently on the Steering Committee and assisting in the State DLNR’s
revision of the Makai Watch program structure.
> MAKAI WATCH BROCHURE (PDF)
Hawai'i Island Marine Debris Removal Project
The mega-gyre of floating plastic estimated to be larger than the state of Texas is pouring a steady stream of marine debris on certain beaches of Hawai’i.
At South Point (Ka Lae) of Hawai’i Island (Big Island), HWF has cleaned more than 100 tons of marine debris from these
remote beaches during the last four years.
This coastline is visited by endangered Hawaiian monk seals, humpback
whales, and nested on by the endangered hawksbill turtle.
the first community shoreline cleanups here in 2003 and the effort has been continuous since.
Over the past year, HWF has helped to remove more than 12 tons of marine debris from this nine-mile stretch of coastline.
The big problem is that the debris keeps coming ashore at a rate
we’ve estimated to be 15-20 tons per year.
Most of the large bundles
of net, many weighing well over 1,000 pounds, are removed with
special equipment we’ve built, and HWF works with Matson to ship the
net and line to Honolulu where it is used to generate electricity in
a trash-to-energy conversion plant (H-Power). HWF takes all of the
other trash, including the 2,000+ bags of small plastic items
collected to date, to the county for burial in a landfill.
Volunteers are a critical part of this shoreline effort and
they’ve come from all over – the island, the state, the
world – to participate.
To get involved in HWF's marine debris program, please contact
Megan Lamson (808) 769-7629,
> MARINE DEBRIS
> 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP (PDF)
> WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE MARINE DEBRIS IN HAWAII (PDF)
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Maui Marine Debris Removal Project
In collaboration with the community and
NOAA's tsunami monitoring program, HWF adopted Waiehu's Ka'ehu Beach on the northwest coastline
of Maui in 2012. HWF cleans this beach every month as marine debris keeps washing ashore.
Japanese tsunami debris has been confirmed on this beach, HWF
conducts research in conjunction with its cleanups.
Our team has also discovered green sea turtle nesting
activity here, which makes cleaning the beach
To join our next clean up, meet at the end of Kukona Place on the
4th Sunday of every month from 9 am to noon.
> VIEW CLEAN UP PHOTOS
> WATCH KA'EHU CLEAN UP VIDEO
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Adopt-A-Highway on Maui Project
Hawaii Wildlife Fund adopted a two-mile stretch of highway near
Ho'okipa Beach Park, a famous break for windsurfing and surfing on
Maui's north shore. In addition to the world-class athletes that
flock to Ho'okipa,
Hawaiian monk seals and
sea turtles use this important area
for foraging, resting and nesting. HWF's team educates the public
about the animals' needs and helps ensure the animals are not
disturbed by well-intentioned beach goers. To help keep this
beautiful area trash free, HWF cleans the section of Hana Highway
from Maliko Gulch to Mama’s Fish House.
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Waiohinu – Ka`u Forest Reserve Protection
The natural and cultural resources of a coastal strand along the
southeast Hawaii Island came to the attention of Hawaii Wildlife Fund
in 2001 with the birth of a monk seal pup on the beach.
At that time, this very large tract of land in the forest reserve
of Ka'u was being leased for cattle grazing. Coastal access was extremely difficult over
five miles of soft volcanic ash and very treacherous lava fields. The 1,300
coastal acres included over
three dozen species of
native Hawaiiian plants (one endangered),
fields of Hawaiian petroglyphs, and four anchialine ponds (nearshore pools fed underground by both fresh and sea water - unique in the US to Hawai'i).
HWF initiated action to protect this resource-rich site by working with state agencies to facilitate a transfer of the coastal strand from grazing lease to “forest reserve” status, an action that was approved by the Hawai'i Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2005.
HWF paid for the boundary survey and other costs of formal
subdivision to complete the transfer.
Managing Better Together Learning Network
HWF works with several other Hawaii-based non-government organizations to coordinate the bi-annual
meetings of community marine management practitioners across the Main
Hawaiian Islands. This "Managing Better Together (MBT) Learning Network"
brings together coastal communities from around the Main Hawaiian Islands to
enhance community-based marine management in the areas where participants
live. Through the network, community members build skills and
share their ideas, experiences and lessons learned through workshops,
meetings and exchange visits.
MBT Learning Network accomplishments include:
- Annual workshops since 2004 drawing about 80 community practitioners, local
non-government organizations, state government officials
and elected representatives.
- At least five exchange visits annually which bring
community members to project sites on other islands to learn
first-hand about those projects.
- Annual meetings for community representatives since 2005 drawing about 40
participants to address plans and goals
for the MBT Learning Network and each community.
Maui Reef Fund
> MAUI REEF FUND
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