Over the past few years, it’s been a battle of traffic, tourists and turtles at Laniakea Beach. The hairy situation – wherein, the traffic is caused by tourists wanting to see turtles – got me thinking…

It got me thinking about the obsession we have with getting a glimpse of certain sea creatures while in Hawaii. Mainly, monk seals, sea turtles and humpbacks – all of which happen to be on the endangered species list. We urge locals and visitors to show respect for these threatened animals but at the same time, hype them up in guide books and on specialized tours.

And whether we get that highly-sought-after picture or not, it all boils down to the safety and well-being of these creatures. Finding a balance between how to show respect and how to enjoy their company must always be in place; otherwise, similar situations, like that of Alii Beach, will arise. Sadly, the animals usually end up the loser.

The same goes for other places around the world, where wildlife tends to be a huge part of the tourism industry. Australia, with their koalas and roos, comes to mind. I can’t even begin to tell you how anxious we were to pet one (or both) of them. But we made sure to do it the right way, by going to a wildlife sanctuary. While Hawaii may not have such sanctuaries, we do have amazing nonprofits and volunteers who take time out of their lives to educate others about these endangered species. Not to mention, set up makeshift barriers while the animals relax on the beach.

So the next time you’re in Hawaii, be sure to check in with one of the experts and keep in mind that we must always malama aina and malama the animals! (Take care of the land, take care of the animals).

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