Hawai’i Hawksbill Sea Turtle Report

HAWAI‘I ISLAND HAWKSBILL TURTLE

RECOVERY PROJECT

2010 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Prepared by Will Seitz, Lauren Kurpita, and Liz Ransom February 2011

Aloha Honu‘ea Ohana! The 2010 hawksbill turtle nesting season is pau! For the last nine months, over 40 diehard turtle volunteers and interns tirelessly monitored and managed Hawai‘i Island’s southern coastline for hawksbill nesting activity and protected endangered turtle nests. This season was highly successful with 39 nests found and protected at six beaches: ‘Āpua Point and Halapē (in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park), and Kamehame, Koloa-Nīnole, Pōhue Bay, and ‘Āwili Point outside the park. Additionally, an olive ridley nest was saved from the surf and protected at ‘Āwili Point (pictured here).
Similarly to the 2009 season, the 2010 season was one of the longest on record. Honu‘ea field season is almost year round now, with this last season extending from April 2010 to mid-January 2011. We identified 12 individual nesting hawksbills and one olive ridley. There were likely more unidentified elusive nesters and nests. Of the 12 hawksbills, seven were returnees from previous seasons, while the other five were newly tagged. These five new recruits now bring the total number of tagged adult female hawksbills on Hawai‘i Island to 105. The olive ridley was only the fourth documented olive ridley nest in Hawai‘i state history. About 4,000 hatchlings safely reached the ocean from the 40 total nests including the olive ridley. Over 80,000 hatchlings have reached the ocean since the project began in 1989. There is hope for the honu‘ea! The following are site summaries:
Āpua Point: One newly tagged turtle laid four nests at this oasis. Families from Kalapana who were camping at the beach were able to observe this nesting turtle. As usual, these hatchlings here were helped across the cobblestones to the ocean. We estimate that over 200 hatchlings reached the water here thanks to volunteer assistance.
Halapē: The most popular backcountry campground in HAVO had two returning nesters that laid ten nests. One of the nesters, Barnacle Betty, was a returnee from 2004. The other turtle was tagged in 2007. Volunteers informed campers who were able to witness nesting turtles and hatchlings. This was especially needed since the nests were located in front of the campsites. Turtle personnel helped put out a wildfire that was accidentally started by campers. Personnel also worked with the Park Maintenance and Vegetation crew and the Wilderness Volunteers to control invasive koa haole that was encroaching on the nesting habitat. An estimated 547 hatchlings reached the ocean from this beach.
Kamehame: Four turtles and 10 nests were documented at this hawksbill nesting mecca. We suspect there were several additional nests as well. Kamehame had the most nesters and nests in the State. Two of the turtles were newly tagged and the other two were returnees. One of them was tagged way back in 1996 and had not been seen for 10 years. The other was seen two years ago, and during the interval was satellite tracked by NOAA residing off leeward Maui. From the 10 nests, we estimate that over 1,345 hatchlings reached the sea. Volunteers also assisted with habitat restoration by removing non-native plants.
Punalu‘u: Some community members reported seeing hatchlings near the pavilion at a small pocket beach. However, we were unable to locate a nest here.

Kōloa-Nīnole: One newly identified nesting turtle laid three nests at this site near Punalu‘u. Sadly, all three nests were unsuccessful due to exposure to high tides. In addition, another returning nester was seen here. We suspect that she nested undetected at another nearby beach, Kāwā.
Pōhue Bay: Nine nests from two returning hawksbills were protected and over 1,300 hatchlings reached the ocean at this important nesting site. One of the turtles was a returnee from 2005 and the other from 2007. Interestingly, both of these nesters were sighted by divers off of Maui in the years between nesting seasons. Including the turtle from Kamehame, there were at least three nesters this year that travelled from Maui to nest in Ka‘ū.
Āwili Point (Road to the Sea): One newly tagged hawksbill laid three confirmed nests and possibly two more. At least 248 hawksbill hatchlings reached the sea here from two highly successful nests. A third nest was unsuccessful due to heavy rains in the fall. The biggest surprise of the 2010 season was when an olive ridley turtle laid 88 eggs in the tidal inundation zone of the beach (pictured here) and were rescued by volunteers and translocated to higher ground. She was newly tagged. The nest was a huge success with 80 hatchlings safely reaching the ocean thanks to the efforts of the volunteers.
Keauhou, Punalu‘u, Horseshoe, Kahakahakea, Hāli‘ipalala, Humuhumu Point: No nesting was observed at these beaches. Beach checks were limited to daylight hours, so we could have missed signs of nesting activity since wind and tides may erase tracks made during the night.

SPECIAL MAHALO to Minky Markiewicz the last two decades of volunteering for Resources Management Division! THANK YOU! We wish you the best on your new journey. We will miss you!
Mahalo for your support! We want to acknowledge our supporters and partners: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawai‘i Natural History Association, National Marine Fisheries Service, World Turtle Trust, UH-Mānoa Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, Three Mountain Alliance, ‘Imi Pono No Ka ‘Aina, Ka‘ū High School, Hawai‘i County, Trust for Public Land, Yamanaka Enterprises, Nani Kahuku ‘Aina, Americorps and Kupu, Hawai‘i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, UH-Hilo, and the Big Island ‘ohana!!!

HUGE MAHALO to all the 2010 season interns and volunteers:

Randy Bacon
Ryan Belcher
Dave Bouck
Carrie Boyle
Wes Briones
Cole Burgess
Amy Comstock
Robbin Dilley
Reni Driskil
Natalie Folsom
Vanessa Foster
Nichole Gaskill
Joe Grandelski
Laura Griffin
Zu Gonzales
Malia Lehua Heimuli
Matthew Holl
Jenna Huskinson
Aleysia-Rae Kaha
Trevor Johannsen
Scarlett Kettwich
Selma Kettwich
Emily Leucht
Minky Markiewicz
Summer Maxwell
Stacie Miller
Monica Oey
Kelly Peebles
Brad Peterson
Liz Ransom
Michael Rawls
Kenny Riley
Jessica Robertson
Angie Salonikios
Hannah Shimabukuro Thelma Tomich
Katie Turner
Sasha Vallieres
Diane Ware
Sophie Wilhoit
Jamie Willeke
Colin Wirth

Creature Feature: Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker

Wildlife Educator and Animal Keeper

rachel-and-janis-272x300

Reptiles Alive Name: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel

Hisstory: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel grew up in Northern Virginia and in 2003 left to attend Clemson University in South Carolina.  While on summer break in 2005, Rockin’ Reptile Rachel took the position of Lead Animal Keeper at Reptiles Alive.  As one who enjoys challenges and is an extremely fast learner, Rockin’ Reptile Rachel began performing shows for Reptiles Alive during that very same summer. Enjoying the fast paced atmosphere, Rachel began working for Reptiles Alive full time in January of 2007 and has thrived ever since.

RA Diet: Rachel likes to feed on leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches. Yum!

Natural Diet: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel prefers a diet of fruits, veggies, and the occasional meat and dairy.  She eats as many locally supplied foods as possible and hopes one day to grow her own vegetables in her garden.

Range: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel has a very broad range.  She was born in Jackson, MS and then swiftly moved to Philippines with her pack until she was 2 years old.  Her pack then settled in Northern Virginia where she has resided ever since.  She temporarily expanded her range in 2003 back south while attending Clemson University in South Carolina.  These days you can find her all over the DC Metro Area doing animal shows or even traveling the world!

Habitat: You can find Rockin’ Reptile Rachel caring for the animal collection at Reptiles Alive HQ, out on the road heading to an animal show, or traveling the world by planes, trains, automobiles and her own two feet.  When she is not entertaining and educating the public with Reptiles Alive, her preferred habitat is to be in the wild or curled up on the couch with her fur-child, Frank-the-dog.

Size: Rachel has reached her maximum height at 5’9”.  Width may vary.

Lifespan: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel could live to 90 years or more!

Reproduction: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel adopted and is raising one fur-child named Frank-the-dog.  She may breed in the future but has yet to find a suitable mate.

Conservation: Since Rockin’ Reptile Rachel was a small child she has had a passion for animals and a great interest in public education.  She would speak to anyone who would listen about the most recent animal facts she had learned.  She has not gone too far from those days in working for Reptiles Alive. Rockin’ Reptile Rachel’s passion for animals and love of children allows her to present very exciting and educational shows that people of all ages are bound to enjoy. Her high energy and witty demeanor is sure to wow your audience!

Cool Facts: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel also has a passion for studying animals in the field. She traveled to remote regions of South Africa during a two-month summer expedition called Vets-In-The-Wild where she assisted wildlife veterinarians in exciting and often dangerous conservation attempts and medical procedures. Forgoing a “normal” college Spring Break, Rachel also traveled to the interior of the Amazon Rainforest with a study abroad program designed to study the Tropical Biology of the Peruvian Rainforest.  Her most recent travels have taken her to remote areas of Belize and Guatemala where she traveled for pleasure and to assist a wildlife trade school and zoo.

Where will her passion for animals lead her next?  Maybe to your school, camp, or even home!

Response to Proposed SENATE BILL NO. 477

The Commonwealth of Virginia will lose valuable resources currently offered to state and local animal and wildlife agencies, school systems, library systems, and the tourism industry, if SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

An entire professional community of law abiding, tax paying Virginia citizens will be penalized due to the act of a single mentally ill individual in Ohio if the proposed code in SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

As the founder and director of Reptiles Alive LLC, a successful outreach wildlife education organization, I currently provide jobs to four Virginia citizens and support my family with the income I earn in my professional endeavors.  I am not alone – there is an entire industry of tax paying, law-abiding Virginia citizens and their families who will be financially damaged if SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

SENATE BILL NO. 477 will exempt organizations accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The majority of wildlife organizations, including mine, are not AZA accredited.  The AZA is a private association, a “club”, which has developed its own accreditation requirements without any public input or oversight. The requirements to become an accredited member in the AZA are unreasonable for most private organizations and family run businesses. Most AZA facilities are operated using tax dollars collected from state and county citizens.

I have been licensed by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) as a Wildlife Exhibitor and Wildlife Rehabilitator since 1993. During this time, my staff and I have presented educational live animal shows to approximately 850,000 people.  We receive no funding from state or local government agencies to educate the public about wildlife and other environmental issues – including most of the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s) in Science. We are a self-sufficient environmental education organization and provide a tremendous educational resource to Virginia students, schools, and citizens.

The passage of SENATE BILL NO. 477 will be a huge loss for Virginia environmental education.Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, hundreds of thousands of students and other citizens are exposed, by non-AZA wildlife professionals, to environmental concepts deemed important by the Virginia Department of Education.  There is no way the handful of AZA member organizations in Virginia will be able to make up for the loss of the permitted Wildlife Exhibitors currently teaching environmental education in Virginia.

I have also offered my services, at no charge, to the VDGIF and various local animal control agencies. These free services have included:  providing housing for exotic reptiles involved in court cases; identification of exotic reptiles; removal of exotic reptiles from hotel rooms, abandoned and condemned buildings; assistance with husbandry of exotic reptiles in state or county custody; advice to animal control and VDGIF officers dealing with boids, venomous snakes and crocodilians; and finally, providing permanent, safe housing for reptiles that had no where else to go.

If  SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed, it will not stop people from owning exotic animals, especially the snakes, listed in the proposal.  However, it will end the assistance the Commonwealth and local Virginia jurisdictions receive from many of the professionals who currently help with animal situations when needed.

AZA facilities will not make up for the loss of the non-AZA state licensed wildlife exhibitors and permitted animal rescue groups. AZA facilities rarely, if ever, take in “rescued” animals.  Private organizations including non-AZA zoos and wildlife exhibitors, licensed by the state, regularly assist in the placement of such animals.

At Reptiles Alive LLC, nearly all of the animals we have in our collection have to come us from local animal control agencies, game wardens, or citizens who no longer could provide care for their pet.  Outlawing the ownership of certain species (especially Boids) will not eliminate them from being privately kept in Virginia.  If these species are outlawed, the disposition options for unwanted or confiscated animals will be primarily limited to euthanasia.

I agree that the ownership of the species listed in SENATE BILL NO. 477 should be regulated – and the Commonwealth of Virginia already has such regulations successfully in place. As a state licensed Wildlife Exhibitor, each year I must submit to the VDGIF my: Permit to Exhibit Wild Animals application; list of species to be exhibited; annual wildlife exhibitor report; and a $50 fee.  An annual inspection of my facility along with the possibility of unannounced inspections from a state game warden is part of the conditions of my permit.  I carry a liability insurance policy and a Workers Compensation policy that covers the activities Reptiles Alive LLC engages in.

It will not cost the Commonwealth any additional taxpayer dollars to continue the permitting and wildlife enforcement process it already has in place.

The passing of SENATE BILL NO. 477 does not make sense for the Commonwealth of Virginia or its citizens.

Sincerely,

Caroline Seitz

Director/Owner

Reptiles Alive LLC

703 560-0257

reptilesalive@gmail.com

Interview with a Boa Constrictor

Sunflower the albino boa constrictor turned two years old on Jan 14.  She is getting ready to begin her career as a show boa for Reptiles Alive, so I wanted to let our fans get to know her a little better.

sunflower-300x186

CobraCaroline (CC):  So Sunflower, you just celebrated your 2nd birthday.  Did you do anything special?

Sunflower (SF): Well actually yesss.   You sssee, I get fed a delicioussss large rat once every other week.  And it just ssso happened that I got my delightful dinner on my birthday.  It was yummy.  And, it isss sstill in my tummy!

CC:  You know Sunflower, some people think that snakes only like to eat their prey live, but all the snakes here at RA get frozen and then warmed up food.  What do you think about that?

SF: Ooooh, I like it much much better when my dinner doesn’t try to bite me or ssscratch me or run away.  Also, I know that the frozen ratsss we eat don’t have all the yucky parasitesss or germsss that live ratsss could have. But I mussst admit, I do enjoy it when the keeper jigglesss the rat in front of me a little.  I mean, I’ll ssstill eat it if is not moving, it isss jusst ssso much more fun to ssstrike it and wrap around it – even though it isss already dead.

CC: We have a few questions from Reptiles Alive fans.   RA fan Virginia Olin wants to ask you two questions:  Where did you learn to speak?  Do you get chapped lips from licking your lips so much?

SF: Good quessstionssss Virginia.   Actually, CobraCaroline is able to communicate with me using an ancient Minoan technique known only to a few ssspecial humansss.  And no, I don’t get chapped lipsssss.  In fact I don’t even HAVE lipssss!  Ha ha ha – that is one of the reasonsss I can’t chew my food.

CC:  RA fan Kory Steele wants to know if you have any plans to get surgical augmentation and regrow legs?

SF: No Kory, no plansss for anything like that.  I really love my body just the way it issss.  I am able to accesssss placesss that animalsss with armsss and legsss can’t.   Armsss and legsss just get in the way.

CC:  RA fan and Bonnie Keller asks:  What’s your favorite rat flavor? And what will you be wearing to the Awards shows later this season?

SF: Bonnie, my tongue isss ssso powerful I can tassste the ratsss even when the RA keepersss are defrosssting them in the other room!  And man, when I sssmell them, I just want to eat them ALL.   I get ssso excited,  I’ll ssstrike at just about anything!!  Ssso, I guess I like all the rat flavors:  black, white, brown, spotted, whatever.  Just give me a yummy delicious rat!  MMMmmmm, rat rat rat.  Wait, you had another quessstion too.  Oh yeah, what will I wear to the Awardsss showsss?  Bonnie – you know usss sssnakesss, we like to keep thingsss sssimple.  No makeup, no clothesss.  I might shed my ssskin just to pretty up a little though.

CC:  So, Sunflower, are you excited about doing shows for Reptiles Alive?

SF: Oh definitely yesssss Cobra Caroline.  I can’t wait to help other people discover how cool sssnakes really are.  That we are not ssscary.  And we don’t want to hurt anyone!  Well, maybe a rat.  But ssseriously, I want to help ssstop humansss from attacking innocent sssnakes in the wild. Jussst leave those poor innocent sssnakes alone you ssscary humansss!!

CC: Any last thoughts or comments?

I am really excited to be a part of your animal education team.  I don’t think there are many albino boa constrictorsss out there working in live animal showsss, in fact, I might be the first!  Oh I know people see albino Burmese pythonsss all the time.  Even that Britney girl had one in a music video or something.  Pythonsss, shmythonssss.  I don’t meant to sssound ssstuck up, but I am ssso sssspectacularly beautiful, that I am sure to become one of RA’s biggest ssstars!

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We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade class.read more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

Tianchan Niu

Tianchan Niu

22:09 17 Dec 17

We had Reptiles Alive join us for a country club event and they did an outstanding job! Ashley was amazing and so professional. She was very interactive with the children and played the role perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience!read more

Chelsea Barb

Chelsea Barb

20:20 28 Mar 18

We’ve been working with Reptiles Alive for the past 4 years now and they show up and show out every time. Everything from booking to the day of is efficient and friendly. At our past event, presenter Liz did 6 shows back to back for our campers, which is truly impressive and phenomenal. We will continue to work with Reptiles Alive for years to come and really appreciate the work and educating that they do!read more

Lydia Vanderbilt

Lydia Vanderbilt

21:09 05 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive gave an awesome show at our elementary school! The presenter was so much fun and really engaged the children. Very cool reptiles and a great interactive meet and greet at the end. The kids loved it!read more

Jonathan Grau

Jonathan Grau

14:52 07 Apr 18

I am in charge of grade level assemblies at our school and our 3rd grade has RA in for their Rain Forest show every year to reinforce the things they have learned about in class. This is my second year working with them and I have been absolutely thrilled with the interaction to book the event and with the presenters. They engage the kids and help make them a part of the show. I can’t say enough about this wonderful program and the amazing people that work there.read more

Kim Painter

Kim Painter

23:32 07 Apr 18

We love this show at our preschool!! The kids have so much fun and learn a lot! They are very organized and always start on time. We have always had a wonderful experience with Reptiles Alive and can’t wait to have them back again!read more

Melissa Jones

Melissa Jones

15:06 20 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive LLC visited our 1st grade friends and did the “Reptiles Alive!” show. They exceeded all of our expectations and were excellent at keeping the students engaged. The students have talked about it for days after, even repeating some of the facts they have heard! I would highly recommend Reptiles Alive!read more

Brittney Gjorgjievski

Brittney Gjorgjievski

16:12 14 May 18

Reptiles Alive was a MAJOR hit at the Mattie Miracle Walk & Family Festival. Rachel was incredibly professional, engaging, and clearly loves what she does. She made the show and meet & greet fun for both kids and adults. Can’t wait to have Reptiles Alive back next year to our event. We received a lot of positive feedback from our guests and we were thrilled to see how well attended the show was at our event. Thank you Reptiles Alive!!!read more

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

01:58 22 May 18

Caroline did an awesome job for our kindergarten Reptiles Alive performance. She held their attention and told fun stories. The reptiles are so cool! Every time she introduced a new reptile, the kids were amazed. I recommend the “meet and greet” time as well. My students will never forget touching a boa constrictor! Thanks Reptiles Alive!read more

Michelle Baldwin

Michelle Baldwin

03:00 09 Jun 18

Reptiles Alive! came to our elementary school for a 3rd grade assembly. Nothing ruffles this organization — they can handle kids of all ages, big groups or small, and bring a *ton* of animals. They are engaging, age-appropriate and bring their own mic system so hearing is not a problem. I highly recommend the meet and greet afterward.read more

Stacey Evers

Stacey Evers

19:25 22 Jun 18

The show was a success, we had around 20 kids between 5-12. Lizzard Liz was great, she was able to keep all of them really interested. The reptiles were amazing, she even brought a small alligator and a boa constrictor.read more

florencia behrensen

florencia behrensen

14:39 02 Jul 18

Caroline at Reptiles Alive! always gives us the best show! It is fun and informative with a variety of reptiles each time she comes. We LOVE Reptiles Alive at Happy Faces Daycare in Centreville, VA!read more

Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts

13:56 12 Jul 18

Amazing 5-year old birthday party- Everyone loved the party, especially the birthday boy, who got to be the star of the show (besides the critters). Liz was on time, prepared, AMAZING at answering kids’ and adults’ questions, incredible breadth of knowledge, so good with the kids and animals, made the party fun, arrived on time, totally professional and courteous and an amazing ambassador of animals and representative of Reptiles Alive. We got to meet a few great snakes, a small alligator, a boa constrictor(!), tree frog, bearded dragon, gecko, and turtle.read more

Stacey R

Stacey R

12:55 30 Jul 18

This organization is great! They have a wide varieties of different shows that appeal to all types of audiences. The educators are very gentle with the animals and engaging with the students. Our educator, Caroline, was awesome! She spoke to the children in different voices, was very interactive, creative, and fun. The kids laughed and loved it. I also really liked the additional education that they provided us, as they told us about the origin of the animals that they were showing. It was also really nice to hear that not only the animals have big, safe, appropriate homes, but also that a great deal of their animals are rescues. I would highly recommend this show and we will definitely be booking them again in the future!read more

Mandi Ellis

Mandi Ellis

13:05 08 Aug 18

Had Reptile Alive for my son’s 5th birthday in October. The party was in Maryland. Paid the travel fee and the animals were there on time. The presenter was so nice et patient to my kids and his friends. She provided a lot of information and interacted very well with the crowd. She went beyond the show time and made sure my son had a good party. He loved it!! Loved the fact that he could hold most of the animals and that she even had some tasks for him!! I was very proud and I will recommend this company!! It was an awesome show!! Thank you!read more

Linda Nana

Linda Nana

14:55 11 Oct 18