Six green sea turtles became the newest, and most adorable, residents at Maui Ocean Center on Thursday, January 12, 2012. Upon their arrival to the Hawaiian Aquarium, they joined the thriving bunch of five juvenile green sea turtles as part of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Educational Loan Program in partnership with Sea Life Park Hawaii; a program designed as an educational outreach geared toward education, conservation, and the enhancement of the public’s awareness of the oceans and its inhabitants.
The six month old turtles were born July 15, 2011 at Sea Life Park Hawaii on Oahu, all from the same clutch. The energetic baby turtles weigh a little over one pound each and are about five inches in width. The turtles will be rotated throughout the day, with two at a time on display.
“Green sea turtles have been an integral part of the park’s marine education program since the Aquarium opened its doors to the public in 1998″ stated John Gorman, Maui Ocean Center’s Head Curator. “Through participation in Sea Life Park Hawaii’s Hawaiian green sea turtle education program, Maui Ocean Center is able to exhibit the turtles and educate the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit the Aquarium each year through presentations and engaging encounters.”
Each turtle must be given a clean bill of health before their transfer from Sea Life Park Hawaii on O’ahu to Maui Ocean Center by animal veterinarian Beth Doescher with Sea Life Park Hawaii and George Balazs with the National Marine Fisheries Service- Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.
On Friday, January 20, 2012 at 11:30am, a traditional Hawaiian ceremony to bless and officially welcome the turtles to the aquarium was conducted by Maui Ocean Center’s cultural advisors, Uncle Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, Sr. and Dane Maxwell. The ceremony, open to park guests, was held at Turtle Lagoon. Charles Maxwell gave a short talk on the significance of the green sea turtle in Hawaiian culture and on the turtle program at Maui Ocean Center to an excited crowd of visitors. Charles and Dane then offered a Hawaiian chant followed by a blessing by Dane of each turtle with prosperity and longevity while at the aquarium and also for their well-being following their eventual release to the open ocean.