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Home > Support > Volunteer

HWF's Volunteer Programs

JOIN US ON A 'VOLUN-TOUR'
Immerse yourself in nature, Hawaiian style. Partnering with the nonprofit Bluecology, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund is offering new volunteer opportunites. > Learn More

SEA TURTLE PROJECTS
   > Hawksbill Recovery Project
   > Hawksbill Turtle Watch
   > Hawksbill Turtle Nest Watch
   > Turtle Fence Building
   > Turtle Transect Team
   > Honu Watch (Maui)

MONK SEAL PROJECTS
   > Maui Monk Seal Watch

MARINE CONSERVATION PROJECTS
   > Makai Watch
   > Marine Debris Cleanups
   > Adopt A Highway on Maui Project

EDUCATION PROJECTS
   > Taro and Fish Farming Project


Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project
Within the Hawaiian Archipelago, endangered hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) predominately nest on Hawai‘i Island. Lower numbers are also known to HWF's Hawskbill Turtle Recovery Project - photo by Cheryl Kingnest on the islands of Maui, Moloka‘i and O‘ahu, with a statewide estimate thought to be at least 50 reproductive females (but probably fewer than 100) with only ~6-20 of these nesting each year. Hawksbill nesting activities were first documented on Maui in 1991, and an organized community-based effort to systematically monitor these occurrences began in 1996.
  > HAWKSBILL RECOVERY PROJECT

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Hawksbill Turtle Watch
Turtle tracks on beach - Cheryl King photoVolunteer with HWF researchers as they monitor Maui beaches for female hawksbill sea turtles returning to their birthplace to nest. We work in the dark, since hawksbill turtles nest at night. We patrol the beach hourly on foot to search for turtle tracks or for mother turtles hauling out onto the beach to nest. When a turtle is spotted, we watch from a distance with a night vision scope to ensure that the animal is not disturbed. We note nest locations so that our team of turtle nest watchers can return to “turtle sit” the nests two months later when the hatchlings are due to emerge. After each turtle successfully nests, HWF staff and volunteers measure her shell and make sure she appears healthy. We note a tagged flipper, if any, which can lead to comparison growth information. If the animal is not tagged, HWF does so for future identification. Sometimes HWF attaches small tracking devices to the turtle’s shell in order to study habitat usages and behavioral patterns.

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Hawksbill Turtle Nest Watch
HWF leads constant vigils of each hawksbill nest right HWF Hawksbill Turtle Nest Watch - photo by Allan Ligonbefore and during the hatching period. Hatchlings often need a little assistance getting to the ocean as they can get trapped in sandy footprints or debris, become disoriented by coastal lighting or get entangled in vegetation. HWF camps by each turtle nest to wait for the hatchlings to emerge. Our presence keeps cats, dogs, birds, mongooses, and crabs from preying upon these hatchlings. When the tiny turtles crawl up out of the sand, nest watchers clear the way to make sure the hatchlings make it to the ocean safely. Hawskbill turtle hatchling - photo by Carrie Robertson Turtle nest watches occur in the summer and fall. Choose either sunset-to-sunrise or daytime shifts. For both our turtle watch and nest watches, volunteers typically bring a beach chair, cell phone, small flashlight (which we will make “turtle friendly”), snacks and water. They wear dark-colored, warm clothes. A positive attitude, patience, good jokes and stories to share are important!

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Turtle Fence Building
Hawaii Wildlife Fund has collaborated with other agencies to help protect Maui's small population of nesting hHWF and boyscouts building turtle fence - click to enlargeawksbill sea turtles and their hatchlings from dangers caused by human disturbance, coastal lighting, non-native vegetation, predators and vehicular traffic. Although these intensified efforts have greatly improved the dataset for each nesting and hatching occurrence, the nesting numbers are not increasing. The fence along turtle nesting habitat at Kealia Pond, Maui, needs constant repair, which is costly and time consuming. A state-wide modeling and overall assessment of the hawksbill sea turtle species and its habitats desperately needs to be undertaken to prioritize and implement research and conservation measures.
  > PHOTOS: HAWAII WILDLIFE FUND FENCE REPAIR VOLUNTEERS

Maui Turtle Fence Video Maui Turtle Fence Video
HWF volunteers and staff repair a wooden "turtle fence" on Maui to help keep turtles off the road.

 > VIDEO: TURTLE FENCE WORK DAY

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Turtle Transect Team
Are you a very skilled snorkeler who loves to explore new areas and can stay in the ocean for hours? If yes, then you’re perfect HWF Turtle Transect Team - click to enlargefor this project, especially if you have an underwater camera. HWF leads turtle transects along the coastline searching for hawksbills and turtles in trouble (hooked or entangled). It’s always an adventure!
  > TURTLE RECOVERY PROJECT

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Honu Watch (Maui)
HWF responds to and educates the community about basking green sea turtles (honu) and conducts research to help assess Honu Watch (Maui) - click to enlargethe population. Ho‘okuleana means "to take responsibility," which we are doing by creating this project because we truly care about the turtles and want them to survive. It's everyone's responsibility to help, so please join us! Qualifications needed: dedication, reliability, excellent people skills and an "aloha attitude." HWF provides turtle training, incorporating our Makai Watch principles.
  > HONU WATCH PROJECT (MAUI)

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Maui Monk Seal Watch
Maui Monk Seal Watch - photo by Carrie RobertsonIn addition to teaching thousands of visitors each year out in the “living classroom” about Hawai'i's monk seals, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund coordinates the Monk Seal Watch on the island of Maui. When monk seals haul out onto the beach to rest, Monk Seal Watch volunteers place police tape around the area and stand by to educate the public, ensuring the animals are not harassed while they rest. Recent years show an increase in both the numbers of adult seals sighted in the Main Hawaiian Islands and an increase in pups born here. As monk seal numbers increase, incidents of human/seal interactions are increasing. Volunteer support is more critical than ever.
  > MONK SEAL WATCH
  > MONK SEALS

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Makai Watch
The Makai Watch program is a partnership effort among the Department of Land and Natural Resources and several non-governmental organizations including The Community Conservation Network (CCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) and several community-based organizations. The goal of Makai Watch is to enhance the management of near-shore marine resources by providing community members an opportunity to become directly involved in this management. The public is encouraged to assist by volunteering.
  > MAKAI WATCH PROJECT
  > MAKAI WATCH BROCHURE (pdf)

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Marine Debris Cleanups
Are you interested in helping us keep Hawaii's beautiful coastlines clean from marine debris and land-based trash? Joining our beach cleanups is a great way to kōkua the ocean we all love, gain valuable information by hands-on experiences, Marine Debris Cleanups - click to enlargelearn how to make a difference, get some exercise, meet cool people, and have fun!
Please bring your friends, gloves if you have them, re-usable water bottle, sturdy footwear that you don’t mind getting wet/sandy, sun protection, and a positive attitude!
Maui: HWF's monthly cleanup events happen on the 4th Sunday of every month from 9am to 1pm at Ka‘ehu Beach in Waiehu. Ka‘ehu Beach is located at the end of Kukona Place Road, which is the second road on the right (by the bus stop) after you pass over the I’ao Stream bridge driving from Kahului. Please drive slowly through the little neighborhood, through the gate and drive towards the ocean where you'll see the HWF Team.
Hawai‘i Island: please check the calendar on our Home page for the current Ka‘u cleanup schedule and other activities so you can join this qualified team that has removed >130 Marine debris cleanups - photo by Cheryl Kingtons of debris from this coastline since 2002.

Reef Cleanups
Sadly, disguarded fishing line, weights and other gear litter our nearshore reefs, which can entangle coral and other animals. Removing these items is a delicate and dangerous process, but it needs to constantly be done. Please check our Home page for the current schedule of in-water cleanups all around Maui. Contact HWF to participate.

  > HWF MARINE DEBRIS REMOVAL PROJECT
  > MARINE THREATS
  > BEACH CLEANUP FLYER (PDF)

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Adopt A Highway on Maui Cleanups
Help us clean the two-mile stretch of highway on Maui (from Maliko Gulch to Mama’s Fish House) that HWF adopted in 2012. These cleanups will prevent land-based trash from blowing into the ocean where animals might mistake it as food.
This beautiful, rugged coastline of sandy beaches and rocky outcroppings provides important habitat for a variety of nearshore reef animals including Hawaiian monk seal basking on rocks - ©thirdcoastphoto Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles.
You can make a difference by joining our cleanups or picking up trash on your own whenever you see it. It only takes a second! Eliminating single-use plastic bottles and bags helps the environment in many more ways than one. And, remember to recycle all aluminum, glass, paper, and plastic. Hawaii's animals thank you!
Contact HWF to participate.
  > ADOPT A HIGHWAY ON MAUI PROJECT

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Related Links
> HWF Projects
> HWF Education
> Turtles
> Seals
> Marine Threats
HWF Volunteer Information PDF
Bluecology
HWF Maui Brochure - click to open PDF
> HWF Maui Brochure PDF
Hawksbill Brochure PDF
> Hawksbill Brochure PDF

 
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