192 Ma'alaea Road, Wailuku, HI, 96793 info@mocmarineinstitute.org



Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute is committed to the survival of sea turtles in Hawai’i by reducing human-caused threats through science-based conservation efforts.

Sea Turtles of Hawai’i

Hawai’i is home to five of the seven species of sea turtles, but the most commonly seen are green turtles (Chelonia mydas) or honu in Hawaiian. Although less common, snorkelers and divers may also come across a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), known as honu’ea or ‘ea in Hawaiian, while exploring Hawaii’s coral reefs.

Green Sea Turtle

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Fibropapillomatosis (FP)

FP is a disease that causes benign, cauliflower-like tumor growth internally and on the soft tissue of sea turtles. In mass, the tumors may inhibit a turtle’s sight, mobility, and foraging ability. Although most often seen in green turtles, FP has been found in all sea turtle species. Researchers around the world are studying the disease to identify a cause and potential cure.


Hawai’i is one of three places in the world where green sea turtles bask (rest) on shore. As reptiles, the body temperature of sea turtles is influenced by the temperature of their environment. It is believed that green sea turtles bask to conserve energy and to help regulate their body temperature. Sea turtles are protected species; please keep a respectful distance of 10 feet (3 meters) if you spot one on shore.