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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30 Responses to “Tracking Masha Kai (September 12, 2009)”

  1. private on September 15th, 2009 1:58 am

    so many interesting maps and info.

  2. Matthyew Fritch on September 15th, 2009 8:00 pm

    This was very informational.

    Thank you, I appreciate all the info

  3. C.A.S. on September 17th, 2009 8:35 am

    thank you for helping turtles you are being a big help to them

  4. C.A.S on September 17th, 2009 8:42 am

    why would they capture the turtle just to put a tracking device on it. SO RETARDED!!!!!!!!!!! hello leather back sea turtles and maybe a bunch of other ones are endangered or threatened but they are almost extinct!!!! USE UR BRAIN!!!!!!

  5. Peter on September 17th, 2009 11:03 am

    The only way to attach a satellite tracking device is to capture the turtle. It doesn’t harm the turtle in any way. Literally hundreds and hundreds of turtle have had satellite trackers attached without any negative effect that anyone has shown, but a vast amount of excellent information has been collected. One of the ways to help endangered turtles is to learn more about where they go. The only way to do this is with tracking devices.

    I appreciate that you are concerned about endangered turtles. (Hawaiian green turtles aren’t endangered, by the way; they’re listed as threatened but even that is questionable in recent years.) So are we, and so are the researchers who captured the turtle. That’s why we did it. Please try to understand that your concern is misplaced, that no harm was done, and that the data from Masha Kai will help scientists find ways to better help the turtles. Aloha.

  6. Anonymous on September 18th, 2009 8:26 am

    interesting is capturing wild turtles and tracking them fun? It sounds kind of interesting.

  7. Peter on September 18th, 2009 11:38 am

    For us almost anything to do with the turtles is interesting and fun. We don’t capture and track them ourselves, of course. We provide assistance to the researchers who have the proper permits and research background. We just happen to be lucky enough to spend our summers in an area where this kind of work can be done.

  8. None-of-ur-buizz!! on September 22nd, 2009 1:18 pm

    U should put more info on where sea turtles live!!! Some of us have a report to do & need that info! You should just write about sea turtles in general & not just certain kinds. That’s just my opinion, b.t.w. the website sux!

  9. None-of-ur-buizz!! on September 22nd, 2009 1:20 pm

    Y write about one & not its sprcies? U need info on other turles characteristics, not just one. I kno this & I’m 9!!!!!!

  10. Joe Meehan on September 25th, 2009 5:57 pm

    Saw a turtle today in Honokeana Cove in Napili with the number “70,” with a euro slash through the “0” clearly scratched onto it’s shell. Is this part of your or someone else’s tracking program? This was about 1530 hours on Friday Septemer 25, 2009 by the way.

  11. Peter on September 26th, 2009 12:58 am

    Mahalo for the report.

    We don’t track turtles, we assist George Balazs, head of the Marine Turtle Research Program in the Islands for the NMFS. Every nesting season George has staff monitoring the primary Hawaiian green turtle nesting site at East Island in the French Frigate Shoals. One of the procedures they follow is to etch a number into the shell of a nesting honu. This is harmless to the turtle, somewhat like clipping your nails. The number helps them determine which nesting honu have already been examined and measured. Since it takes about a year for the number to fade completely, it also helps because people like you report sightings when the turtles return to the main Islands.

    I will forward your sighting to George. He’ll respond with information about the honu and I’ll post it here. Thanks again for the report.

  12. Bruce Drye on October 6th, 2009 11:59 am

    It’s great to be able to visit your site and see all the information and photos you provide.
    I just wanted to say hello and thank you.
    You will always be an inspiration to me.

  13. Peter on October 7th, 2009 1:02 pm

    Aloha and mahalo nui loa. Those are kind words indeed.

  14. Anonymous on October 7th, 2009 10:27 pm


  15. Jason on October 9th, 2009 1:09 pm

    do you have a clear picture of a leatherback seaturtle in the ocean

  16. Peter on October 10th, 2009 2:55 am

    Don’t I wish! Sorry, we’ve never seen a leatherback, never mind a picture. Leatherbacks spend most of their time far out to sea, therefore pictures of them in the water are rare. You can try the Image Library. Good luck!

  17. bride on October 11th, 2009 1:01 pm


  18. bridiepoo on October 11th, 2009 1:02 pm

    so cute

  19. Jonny Depp on October 12th, 2009 5:09 am

    how many kinds of turtles are there

  20. Pickle on October 13th, 2009 2:46 am


    holy crap

  21. Shandrell Webb on October 13th, 2009 4:34 am

    i think this website is not very good for research but th egraphics are great and this is very easy to navigate.:) thank you!!HAVE A AWESOME DAY!!!

  22. Brooke on October 13th, 2009 4:37 am

    awsome turtleness

  23. Eric Alexander2nd on October 13th, 2009 12:57 pm

    Uh can y’all put in the population study.

  24. rolly on October 18th, 2009 3:51 am

    i love turtles and practially any animal but i;l do whatever i have to to help the turtles.

  25. Peter on October 19th, 2009 8:52 am

    how many kinds of turtles are there

    I have no idea how many kinds there are if you count tortoises and freshwater turtles. If you mean marine turtles, there are seven species: green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, flatback, Kemp’s ridley, and olive ridley. Sometimes the Pacific green is listed as a separate species called the black turtle, but this is not correct.

  26. Peter on October 19th, 2009 8:59 am


    You should check out some of our other pages. I think you’ll find plenty of turtle pictures online.

  27. Peter on October 19th, 2009 9:00 am

    Uh can y’all put in the population study.

    What population study?

  28. Peter on October 19th, 2009 9:01 am

    i love turtles and practially any animal but i;l do whatever i have to to help the turtles.

    Thanks for caring about the turtles. They need all the friends they can get.

  29. ashlynn cole on October 26th, 2010 2:29 pm

    hi there i love turtles whats that stuff on the turtle

  30. Peter on November 23rd, 2010 4:16 pm

    Aloha Ashlynn, I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but the video shows how a satellite transmitter is attached to a turtle’s shell.

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