Much much later… (October 31-November 23, 2010)

November 23rd, 2010  

Kuahele, Momona Lua Kuahale

That means “Home, Sweet Second Home” if I’ve translated correctly. (I don’t speak Hawaiian, I just have a Hawaiian dictionary.)

The Nohonani, Honokowai, West Maui

The Nohonani, Honokowai, West Maui, is our second home. I could have waited for a sunny sky but this picture illustrates that we just love to be here no matter what the weather does.

Click image to enlarge

Yes, we’ve finally returned to Maui. It’s been a stressful 14 months since we left. Family health issues resulted in delaying our annual pilgrimage until now. When we revised our plans, we had no idea how much we’d miss being here in July and August. At first, it didn’t bother us much, but as July wore into August, we gradually got more and more anxious to return. By the time we got on the plane on October 31, we were ready to walk across the continent and swim to Maui. We always knew we’d miss being here, but we seriously underestimated how much.

That’s why the picture above isn’t a typical bright, sunny, “Maui is Paradise” scene. Sure, the sky is grey and there was a little bit of light rain falling, but so what? It’s good to be here in any conditions. When we arrived, a huge surf was breaking and there were surfers right out in front of the Nohonani. In other years, that would have been the source of a good deal of frustration, but not this time. If we don’t get in a single dive (we actually don’t expect to get in many) and we never get the kayak in the water (we will) we’d still be content. We needed Maui. It’s already recharged us a great deal, and that’s all we really want.


One of the things we thought we’d miss this past summer was watching over 5690 and her nests. We’ve been doing that every second year since 2002, when we were first privileged to watch 5690 make a nest. This year, however, 5690 didn’t show up. She  might be nesting somewhere else, but I consider that unlikely. My theory is that there has been a scarcity of honu food along the West Maui coast for a couple of years, so the females simply aren’t able to build up the reserves they need before making a nesting migration.

None of the Honokowai females who we expected to nest at the French Frigate Shoals last year were spotted there, and we’ve not had any reports of honu from this year’s list either. I suppose that it is possible that all of the tagged females we’ve identified over the years have simultaneously met some other fate, but I think it’s more likely they’re simply not ready to nest.

Masha Kai

Masha Kai’s transmitter failed a lot sooner than we’d hoped. We do think that she is still in the area because she’s been spotted. The person reporting this mentioned that it appeared the satellite tag was completely gone, which would be unusual but not impossible. The patch on her carapace is still visible, which is how she was recognized. We did learn that Masha Kai is a local girl, since all of the positions she transmitted were within shouting distance of the Nohonani, where the transmitter was attached.

Here’s the final tracking map for Masha Kao, as prepared by Denise Parker, JIMAR/PIFSC Marine Turtle Research Specialist, Marine Turtle Research Program
NOAA, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Silver Spring MD. Mahalo Denise, and also to George Balazs, Leader, Marine Turtle Research Program, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu HI, and Marc Rice, Director, Science and Technology, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Kamuela HI.

Final Tracking Map, Masha Kai

What about the honu?

Since we arrived over three weeks ago, we have not dived, and we have only managed two kayak trips. There are several reasons for this, only part of which is the water conditions at this time of year. The fact is, we had several days in a row of excellent conditions (unexpected at this time of year) but other reasons kept us dry. We intend to change this but until we do, we don’t have much to report about the honu, and of course no pictures or video at all.

We can say, based on shore observations, that on some days there are a lot of honu about, and on others, none at all. We haven’t seen one haul ashore to bask yet, although we know that the week before we arrived one honu had crawled up onto the Nohonani beach three or four times. We have hope.

Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day

One thing we did do, and which I am eager and might I say, proud to report, is honour the veterans on Remembrance Day.

This is the first time either of us has been outside Canada on November 11th. In Canada, November 11 is called Remembrance Day, and it is a day to honour the veterans of all wars, especially those who dies in the service of their country. There are remembrance ceremonies in every community, complete with the laying of wreaths at War Memorials and Veteran’s Cemeteries, accompanied by Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Legion, and Cadet Corps Honour Guards. For weeks leading up to November 11, The Royal Canadian Legion sells poppies, and by the time Remembrance Day arrives most Canadians are wearing one. It is a solemn and powerful occasion.

As November 11 approached here, we wanted to observe and perhaps participate in the ceremonies to be held here. We were baffled to discover that there weren’t any! We couldn’t even find a single poppy to wear. Apparently, in the United States most ceremonies honouring veterans take place on Memorial Day, which is in May.

In searching for mention of any ceremonies, we discovered that the Veteran’s Cemetery on Maui is in Makawao, so we drove up there (it’s on the slope of Haleakal for those who don’t know) to visit and get a feel for the place, and to see if there might be something planned that wasn’t posted somewhere on the net. We found it to be a beautiful, peaceful, and moving place—but there was no indication that there would be anything special happening on November 11. We agreed that we would do something ourselves.

Since we couldn’t find poppies for sale on Maui, we decided to make our own. It took a bit of searching and some creative thinking, but we were pleased with the results.  We made a video of the process, so you can judge for yourselves:

At 11:00 AM November 11, we were back at the Makawao Veteran’s Cemetery with our homemade poppies.

Lest we forget.


Future updates

I’m embarrassed that it has taken so long to post an update here. Unlike past seasons, I will not attempt to make weekly updates, but I do promise to post anything new and interesting. Turtle Trax is in dire need of a major overhaul but I have not been able to devote much time to it over the past year, and I can’t predict when I will be able to do it.

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30 Responses to “Much much later… (October 31-November 23, 2010)”

  1. brandon on June 15th, 2010 10:45 am

    i just love sea turtles

  2. Shiri Joshua on June 23rd, 2010 11:33 am

    Hello beloved Peter and Ursula,
    My name is Shiri Joshua, I live in Vancouver, BC – moved here from Toronto in 2007. I am a psychotherapist and public speaker focusing on the Human-Animal connection, pet loss grief, and animal healing. I teach workshops and give talks on spiritual matters related to animal consciousness and what we can learn from them on our spiritual evolution as a society.

    In May 2010 I was in Hawaii and had an unexpected life changing experience with the Honu in Laniakea, Oahu. They touched my soul on a deep level, and I was completely humbled by their presence… I promised to help and to come back some day and maybe offer a workshop or internship to students wishing to be of service in healing & protecting these beautiful beings of the sea. I asked for guidance, and then on my very last day in Hawaii, I found your book! I literally had $19 left in my wallet (seriously!!) and so I knew it was my answer – I had to get your book (and remain cashless until I landed back in Canada 🙂

    When flipping through the pages the photos spoke to my heart and again I felt the need to “do something” on their behalf, to help your mission, and to bring awareness to the Honu by offering a retreat or a class in Hawaii. I then realized that you are located in Ontario (Mississauga?) as well as in West Maui… I wonder if we could collaborate somehow and connect on the phone? I will be coming to Toronto in September for a short visit, and it will be my honour to meet with you and speak about some ideas that I have. In the meantime, please feel free to research some of my work so you know a bit more about me: and
    Blessings and thank you!
    Vancouver, BC

  3. Yuruki on August 3rd, 2010 5:08 am

    Love this website now i can finish my poster

  4. joe on August 5th, 2010 3:44 pm

    Aloha and mahalo for the site. I have been casually observing the honus in my backyard for the last 20 years here in Poipu,Kauai. The degree of FP has drammatically fallen off. I noticed only one turtle with a small growth on its flipper yesterday, the first in a year. FP seems to have disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Our challenge now is to inform the guests and the local kids to give them space as they regulate their body temperature by basking on the rocks in the sun. Thanks again for the site.

  5. Garnet on August 27th, 2010 6:16 pm

    How long will your stay be in Maui this year… We are heading to Maui December 01… if you are there at that time.. I’d like to meet you and get my copy of your book signed by the authors… Thanks Garnet

  6. bob on September 9th, 2010 5:43 pm

    im bob i think see tutles are cewl

  7. Anonymous on September 14th, 2010 12:54 am

    This is a great cause 🙂

  8. Kiley on September 22nd, 2010 11:25 am

    This turtle cartoon made me laugh. I thought you might enjoy it too.


  9. rahma on September 28th, 2010 7:42 am


    love dis is veri good wedsite

  10. destiny on November 1st, 2010 11:57 am

    i love it

  11. Lee Gibbon on November 9th, 2010 5:55 am

    Hello, my wife and I were married on Ouahu in October then we honeymooned on Big Island.
    We dived with turtles on both islands and we have fallen in love with them.
    We bought your book and think you are doing a fantastic job.
    We are planning to come back and dive with them as soon as we can afford it!

    I heard there has been leather back turtles sighted off The Isles of Scilly here in the UK.
    We will also make an effort to visit these guys.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lee and Rewa.

  12. maricela on November 20th, 2010 12:43 pm

    i just love sea turttles

  13. Peter on November 23rd, 2010 4:07 pm

    Aloha Shiri,

    I’m sorry we didn’t respond to your message until now. There have been too many things happening in our lives to afford time for this site, as anyone visiting can tell. We really appreciate your beautiful story. It’s too bad we missed your connection, but fate takes us where it will. We wish the best of luck in your work. Thanks for the sharing and for the kind words.

  14. Peter on November 23rd, 2010 4:11 pm

    Aloha Joe! We’ve heard of your basking site from other sources. Thanks for the information concerning the dropoff in FP. It fits the pattern we’re hearing about from all around the Islands, and it’s wonderful news. Not so many years ago everyone thought FP was the death knell for the Hawaiian green turtle, but today they flourish. The disease will probably never disappear completely, but in most areas the epidemic has peaked. Meanwhile, the number of honu continues to rise and now they are a common sight almost everywhere in the Islands.

    Thanks for caring for the honu in your area. You are so lucky to live near a basking spot. Aloha!

  15. Peter on November 23rd, 2010 4:14 pm

    Aloha Garnet, we will be on Maui until January 4. Our publisher is working on a couple of book signing events, one at the Barnes & Noble in Lahaina, and another at the Maui Ocean Center. We don’t have details and we’re not even sure these will actually happen, but if not, get in touch after you arrive and perhaps something else can be arranged.

  16. Peter on November 23rd, 2010 4:17 pm

    Aloha Lee, thanks for the kind words. I hope you get your opportunity to dive with turtles soon. They are wonderful to see, but the best way to experience them is to see them underwater, in their native habitat.

  17. Bigkopman on December 2nd, 2010 11:54 am

    I like turtles

  18. Anonymous on December 6th, 2010 10:42 am

    i just love sea turtles

  19. pickle shaped unicorn on December 8th, 2010 12:37 pm

    how much do average hawksbill sea turtles eat a year and how much do they eat a year?

  20. Peter on December 9th, 2010 6:17 am

    That’s a good question, but unfortunately I don’t know the answer. Sorry.

  21. megan noles on December 11th, 2010 2:29 pm

    I am doing a report on save the sea turtles and I know to come here!!!!!!!!!

  22. Diana Patton on January 21st, 2011 8:47 am

    I am just reading your book THE BOOK OF HONU and am enjoying it so very much. The text is enthralling and the photos gorgeous. What is also exciting for me is that when I visit my son and his wife on Maui I stay in Honokawai (Hale Maui) and they live there. Last October we had our most thrilling Honu encounters ever at Napili Beach. I could not believe all the huge Honu swimming by us and under us as we snorkeled. I hovered entranced, watching them. Thank you for your wonderful book. And I’m happy for your website.

  23. Shirley on March 21st, 2011 3:36 am

    Im doing reaserch on how to make saving the sea turtles funner to get more people to do it. I know to come here now.

  24. Ducky on March 29th, 2011 6:43 am

    hey what are turtles about ?

  25. Anonymous on April 12th, 2011 12:01 pm

    i just love sea turtles!

  26. Firestar on April 19th, 2011 1:13 pm


  27. Figure.10 on April 22nd, 2011 6:08 pm

    I like turtles.

  28. junebug94 on May 13th, 2011 8:48 am

    hi everyone i just love turtles. my family says im obsessed i need some help find a college for ocean and marine life

  29. Lauralu on May 16th, 2011 10:18 am

    Hello, I LOVE turtles and am trying to raise awareness of the worrying fact that they are getting closer to extinction. I would appreciate it if you would let me use some of your stories on here along with some images to help promote awareness. All links and info will be directed back to you, I’m not here to take credit. I would love to re-post your story of the turtle who had a tumor and was caught in fishing wire.


  30. tom on July 11th, 2011 11:40 am

    i love turtles and i love your site nice site you got

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