192 Ma'alaea Road, Wailuku, HI, 96793 info@mocmarineinstitute.org Maui Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline: 808-286-2549

Nā Moʻolelo Honu

We are Booked!
Chanel Browne
February 19, 2021

Aloha mai kākou! This week at MOC Marine Institute (MOCMI), we have a full house. For the first time in our sea turtle program history, we have six rehab patients at once! Every turtle has its own unique rescue story, treatment plan, and name. Each patient at MOCMI is cared for by staff members, interns, and volunteers who have the best interests in mind for each of them.

The Hawaiian word kākou is an embodiment of togetherness. A common goal that we all have is seeing our turtles make their journeys back to the ocean. When a caller reports a  distressed turtle through our stranding hotline, we work together as a team to provide the care and treatment necessary to get that turtle back to the very beach where they were found. Some days are filled with planning, and others are filled with action. All days are filled with a shared compassion and consideration for these animals. Now, let’s take a look at one of our current patients:

Patient M504 (“Moby”). Photo: MOC Marine Institute

Moby is an adult male honu that was found in the nearshore waters of Pāpalaua Wayside Park. He was found with monofilament fishing line severely entangled and embedded around his left front flipper (LFF) – it was the worst entanglement case that I have ever seen. Moby is the largest patient that we have treated at our turtle lab, weighing in at 108 kg, or 238 lbs, upon the day of his arrival! Little to say that it took more than just a few hands to get this guy up on the table for examination. Moby’s initial treatment plan included therapeutic laser, wound management, and hydro-therapy to save his injured flipper. We thought Moby was on the road to recovery. 

A month after he arrived, we discovered a small area of tissue near the wound site on his LFF had become detached, which left Moby’s LFF immobile and compromised. Our veterinary team comprised of Dr. Paul McCurdy and NOAA veterinarians, Dr. Gregg Levine and Dr. Michelle Barbieri, considered  that Moby’s right front flipper (RFF) was perfectly healthy, and would ensure his ability to survive without his LFF. Honu adapt quickly and are able to survive with one full-functioning front flipper. The decision was made that Moby was to undergo amputation of his LFF. This was an especially hard blow for me and the treatment team who worked with Moby every day, but it is important to remember that Moby’s case was special from the beginning. I believe that every hour that was put into Moby’s treatment put him just a step closer to making his way back to his ocean home. 

“Moby” recovers from amputation surgery. Photo: MOC Marine Institute

Moby is still recovering from his surgery but has the love and support of the entire team at MOCMI. He is getting lots of rest and limu, or algae, from local areas around Maui. To the surprise of staff members, interns, and volunteers, he passed 63 cm, or 24 in, of monofilament fishing line this Monday! His case is still ongoing, but we are all awaiting the exciting day that we will be able to send him off with a big “a hui hou,” or goodbye. 

Stay tuned for next week’s post about our other rehab patients and their individual stories. As always, if you see a hooked or entangled sea turtle, please contact our team through our stranding hotline at (808)286-2649. Mahalo, for your continued time and dedication to our team and the survival of sea turtles in Hawaiʻi.

MOC Marine Institute’s sea turtle stranding response, rescue, and rehabilitation activities authorized under NOAA Permit: 21260.

New Beginnings
Chanel Browne
February 11, 2021

Aloha! My name is Chanel Browne, and I am a Sea Turtle Technician at MOC Marine Institute (MOCMI). I have been working with MOCMI since October 2020 and have assisted in the rescue, response, and rehabilitation of honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. I was born and raised on this beautiful island of Maui and from a young age, I was taught that the ocean is a “being” that demands respect from all those who dare to enter it. Along with that respect came a natural wonder to explore and appreciate all it has to offer us. I knew that if I wanted to impact the place I grew up, education would be my gateway.

Photo: MOC Marine Institute. NOAA Permit: 21260

I graduated from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2015 and decided to continue my education onto college at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. I spent 4 ½ long years in the cold and rain doing fieldwork in the rocky intertidal zones of the Pacific Northwest and received my BS in Biology. With a degree to my name, I moved back home to the valley isle and was finally ready to give back to the place that inspired me to be all I am today. 

To Hawaiians, the ocean is more closely related to a family member than a monotonous lull of waves. We are taught to take care of, or mālama, our family, and the ocean is no different. Each aspect of the work done at MOCMI directly aligns with the values that I grew up with and continue to implement into my adult life. 

Photo: Graham Burdekin

Join me and my team as we work together to preserve the perpetuation of coral reefs and sea turtles in Hawaiʻi. This blog will be a collection of adventurous stories for those ocean lovers interested in staying up-to-date on the daily workings of our organization. Mahalo, for your continued support and willingness to grow with us as we move towards a bright and beautiful Hawaiʻi.

5 Comments on “Nā Moʻolelo Honu

  1. Well done, Chanel! You are a great blogger, offering a nice personal story that ties into the MOCMI mission and inspires us to malama and get involved.

  2. Your beliefs, values and love for the island and ocean are inspiring. It sounds like you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I am looking forward to this journey with you, Chanel! Mahalo!

  3. Love your blog, Chanel, and for sharing your story.

    Keep on blogging💚🐢

  4. This is so well written. Whoever said there’s no such thing as the perfect job was wrong. I wanna be a Honu Technician like you 🙂 What a rewarding job! Love your blog so much. Keep up the great work ♥

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