Tracking Masha Kai (September 12, 2009)

September 12th, 2009  

What’s all this about?

Masha Kai is a female honu who was captured, given a satellite tag, and released at Honokowai, West Maui, on August 21, 2009. For the story and video of the process, see my last post from Maui for 2009.

Good intentions

We received the first satellite tracking map just over a week ago, but I didn’t post it immediately (obviously). I had every intention of sorting through the summer’s images and video to find and post some of the good stuff we ¬†missed posting during the summer. I still plan to do that, but life has a funny way of interfering with plans. Suffice to say a family emergency has me in Newfoundland at the moment. Right after I got here, I received a second tracking map and I realized I couldn’t put off posting these any longer. So here they are.

As of August 31, 2009

Tracking map for Masha Kai as of Aug 31 09

Tracking map for Masha Kai as of Aug 31 09

After Masha Kai was released, Ursula and I hoped to spot her, if not on a dive, at least feeding inshore. This never happened, raising the possibility that perhaps she was a transient turtle and not a Honokowai honu after all. While this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it would have been a bit disappointing. The first tracking map, however, showed that she was just south of us but outside our observation area. In the inset, the Nohonani (indicated by the star) is the condo where we stay. The Ka’anapali Shores is easily visible¬† from the Nohonani, and we have snorkeled in that area from our kayak. We know that there are a lot of honu on the reef there. From our one short survey, we also know that there is considerable overlap with the honu we see on most of our dives. So, no surprise but an interesting map.

As of September 9, 2009

Tracking map for Masha Kai as of September 9 2009

Tracking map for Masha Kai as of Sep 9 2009

The second map is interesting because it shows that she has returned to the area of the Nohonani, probably to forage. If that is what she’s doing, then sooner or later someone from the Nohonani or the Kulakane (the condo next door) will spot her transmitter and report the sighting to us.

Even if she goes nowhere else before her battery dies, Masha Kai will tell us something about the range of the Honokowai honu. We knew some of the Reef 2 honu sometimes went south to the area of the Ka’anapali Shores, but we didn’t know how often, or whether some of them ventured even farther. Perhaps Masha Kai has more to reveal. With luck, she’ll make a nesting migration next spring. We’re hoping.

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