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Happy Birthday, Honu!

Author: Heather Walters

The MOC ʻohana recently celebrated a very special occasion. Our six Hawaiian green sea turtle ambassadors, Kuʻuipo (Turtle 1), Kilakila (Turtle 2), Nohea (Turtle 3), Hohonu (Turtle 4), Makaʻala (Turtle 5), and Auliʻi (Turtle 6), turned two!

Sea turtles are only with us for a short period of time at the beginning of their lives, so celebrating these milestones is particularly meaningful. Even though we’re currently closed, we were still able to come together, masks and all, to cook up a very special birthday cake – turtle gel made of cucumber, broccoli, carrots, spinach, herring, spirulina, gelatin, yeast, and pellets!

Turtle-gel is a nutritious “secret” recipe made in-house at MOC

The Hawaiian green sea turtles, or honu, at Maui Ocean Center are part of an ongoing outreach program that started in the 1970’s. Sea Life Park on Oʻahu is home to the parents of these young turtles, and while most of the hatchlings are released to the wild, a few become ambassadors of their species at MOC. 

All sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 – only through a special permit are we allowed to care for and handle them. Our sea turtle ambassadors are weighed and measured weekly to monitor growth and ensure overall health, and after a few years under our care, are ready to be introduced to the ocean to continue their lives in their natural habitat.

Honu enjoy special turtle-gel birthday cakes

We continue to learn from our turtle ambassadors after their release. Satellite transmitters, like the one fitted to Nakine, a previous turtle ambassador, continue to shed light on the movements of young turtles around the Hawaiian Islands.

MOC celebrated the six honu behind the scenes

It won’t be long before Kuʻuipo, Kilakila, Nohea, Hohonu, Makaʻala, and Auliʻi are ready to embark on their next chapter of life in the open ocean. Until then, they are well cared for by Team Manō and Team Honu!

MOC’s Curatorial Team


Written by Heather Walters. “Ka Mo‘olelo Moana,” or “The Ocean Story,” is a monthly column written by Maui Ocean Center.

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