How data on the population dynamics of North Shore Maui's Hawaiian green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) through use of a Photographic Identification Protocol (PIP) can increase conservation and decrease eco-tourism's impact

Co-authored with two Italian researchers.  Community leadership as a process to decrease the impact of eco-tourism.  


On the north shore of Maui, Hawaiian green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) haul out to bask at Ho`okipa Beach Park on a daily and constant basis.  Wbile data have been collected on the numbers of turtles ( that bask on a daily basis at Ho`okipa Beach Park, only informal anecdotal data have been collected that identified specific, individual Hawaiian green sea turtles who bask at this park.  The numbers of turtles basking at this beach park has risen from 3-5 animals  (2008) to over 130 turtles (2016). A formal field observation based study was conducted in 2016 and >600 basking turtles at Ho`okipa Beach Park on Maui wereobserved over three-hour shifts  from 7am-10am/10am-1pm/1pm-4pm/4pm-7pm in.June, July, and August 2016.. These field observations resulted in the development and use of a photographic facial scute identification protocol. >180 individual Hawaiian green sea turtles were identified dthrough this photographic recognition protocol.  Results of this study indicated that the numbers of individually identified Hawaiian green sea turtles (1) represented a a prevalence of basking females showing a ratio of 0.27 M: 0.73 F,; 2) basking environmental preference of Zone A – white sandy beach; (3) two specific environmental parameters: (a)  tide height, determined by the data provided by the meteorological service of the NOAA, and (b) sea state, measured through the Douglas scale; (4) turtles in the morning were fewer (μ = 2.19, SD = 2,682) but reappeared to bask again in the afternoons μ = 13.55, SD = 15.084) Given the increasing popularity of eco-tourism on Maui, beach management plans must addresstime periods that are most prone to the disturbance of basking and secondary ecotourism activities, which will have to be distinguished by space-time adaptability and interactivity with environmental variables that characterize certain unique ecological balances in the world.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Nicolò Roccatagliata1, Maria Cristina Ramasco, Jane Schumacher, George H. Balazs, Hannah Bernard1
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Pacific Science Journal
Publication Language: 

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