Maui's sea turtles-both hawksbills and greens-will be the topic of discussion at the upcoming Maui Sea Turtle Symposium, to be hosted by Pacific Whale Foundation on Thursday, Sept. 20. The free event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Pacific Whale Foundation's Discovery Center, located on the harbor level of the Ma'alaea Harbor Shops.
"There has been a lot of news and concern about Hawai'i's sea turtles recently, especially with the discussions about possibly removing Hawaii's green sea turtles from the U.S. Endangered Species list," said Lauren Campbell, conservation manager at Pacific Whale Foundation. "In February of this year, the Association of Hawai'i Civic Clubs (AOHCC) filed a petition to classify the green sea turtle in Hawai'i as a Distinct Population Segment or 'DPS' and then 'delist' this Distinct Population Segment-which would remove Hawai'i's green sea turtles from the protective powers of the U.S. Endangered Species Act."
"On Aug. 1, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) ruled that the petition by the AOHCC may be warranted, and will now do a review of the status of the species," Campbell said. "The goal of the status review is to determine if what is requested or suggested is an appropriate next step."
"Our Sea Turtle symposium will include an overview by a NOAA representative of the status review process; it's a must-attend for anyone who wants to understand what will happen next for our Hawaiian green sea turtles," advised Campbell.
The status review process will be presented by Patrick Opay, endangered species branch chief/secion 7 coordinator of the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office, Protected Resources Division. His Webinar-style presentation will be transmitted via Internet and projected on the large wall screens at Pacific Whale Foundation's Discovery Center.
An overview of the latest news about Maui's hawksbill sea turtles, including photos of recent hawksbill nesting and hatchings on Maui, will be presented by Glynnis Nakai, refuge manager at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Attendees will learn how to become involved in helping to protect the nests of these endangered sea turtles.
There will be time at the end of the presentations for questions.
The Maui Sea Turtle Symposium is presented as part of Pacific Whale Foundation's Making Waves Lecture Series, a bimonthly series of presentations held on the third Thursday of alternating months. Each presentation is free and open to the public.
"Our goal is to provide a forum for educational presentations and positive discussion that can help resolve issues and questions relating to the marine environment," said Campbell.
Reservations are not required. Free parking is available in the lot fronting Maui Ocean Center.
For additional information, contact the Pacific Whale Foundation at (808) 249-8811, ext. 1.