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It’s true that we do not know much about the early stages of Hawaiian green sea turtles. After they hatch on a beach, they scurry to the water’s edge before getting swept off with the deep-sea currents. It’s not until much later when they return to the islands. The “Lost Years,” as they’re called, remain a mystery for scientists; however, a special exhibit at the Waikiki Aquarium may provide more insight into that.
The aquarium is hosting six threatened honu (turtle) hatchlings, born in captivity at Sea Life Park. The hatchlings will be on display for about a year before they can be released into the ocean.
This is a rare chance for visitors and residents to see turtles during this time in their lives. Most of the turtles we see, whether on beaches or swimming near shore, have already matured. Rarely will you see a baby turtle while on vacation – unless you witness it hatching overnight. I am completely intrigued by the “Lost Years.” Where do they go? What do they eat? How do they know where to return?
The aquarium says it will provide a spacious environment for the hatchlings to live. Despite not being as large as an open ocean, the 1,000-gallon exhibit protects hatchlings from predators and diseases. Also, it allows the aquarium to educate the public on marine conservation, as well provides opportunities for research.
• Waikiki Aquarium 2777 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815 • www.waquarium.org