Contact | Donate

Home   About Us   Marine Life   Projects   Education   Support   What's New   Partners




Home > Support > Volunteer                             

HWF's Volunteer Programs


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

   > Maui Monk Seal Watch

   > Makai Watch
   > Marine Debris Recovery

   > Taro and Fish Farming Project

'Voluntour' your next vacation to help wildlife

This fall, give back and learn new skills by signing up for a Bluecology Voluntour Bluecologyvolunteer vacation guided by Hawaii Wildlife Fund team members on Maui. Participate in our weeklong volunteer program to learn firsthand about the health of Hawaii's coral reefs and native marine wildlife.
   For a week on Maui, you will assist our biologists as they survey sea turtles both on the beach and underwater. You will learn more about Hawaii's coral reef health, help monitor sea turtle habitat, and help assess potential impact to Maui's reefs.
   Participants receive on-site training and can choose from a variety of tasks. No prior research experience necessary.
    Choose between two Voluntour options for Fall 2016:

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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!

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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!

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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 Hawaii's monk seals, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund helps with NOAA's 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 Hotline: (808) 292-2372
Contact Nicole Davis (

Back to top

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.

Back to top

Marine Debris Recovery
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: Contact HWF to particpate in quarterly cleanup events 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 tons of debris from this coastline since 2002.

Reef Cleanups
Marine debris cleanups - photo by Cheryl KingSadly, 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.


Back to top

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

Hawai'i Wildlife Fund    •   PO Box 790637 Paia, HI 96779   •   808.280.8124    •   •
Site by Third Coast Photo & Web      •      Legal Disclosure      •      Site Map