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


Sea Turtles of Hawaiʻi

Five of the seven species of sea turtles can be found in the waters of Hawaiʻi, but the most commonly seen are green sea 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 honuʻea or ‘ea in Hawaiian, while exploring Hawaii’s coral reefs.

Green Sea Turtle (click for more information)

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (click for more information)

Fibropapillomatosis (FP)

FP is a disease that causes benign, cauliflower-like tumor growths internally and on the soft tissue of sea turtles. In mass, the tumors may inhibit a sea 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.


Hawaiʻi is one of only three places in the world where green sea turtles are known to bask (rest) onshore. 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 come across one basking on the shore.