Stranding Events- HPA STRP Stranding Team

From 3/1/2021 to 1/31/2022

Case 1

Date: 1/30/2022

Location:  Mahu Kona, Hawaii Island, HI

Lat: 20.180329°,long: -155.902896°

Wendy Noritake called that she observed a turtle with fishing line down throat and around right front flipper – observed by her and corroborated by other swimmers. Appears to be a male. We swam the area for approximately 1 hour but were unable to locate the animal.  We will try again as soon as possible.

Travel Statistics:

Total distance traveled = 47 miles

Total time (travel plus in-water time)= 2.5 hours


Case 2

Date: 10/18/2021

Location:  140 Puako Beach Drive

Lat:  19.961684

Long:  -155.857033

Condition:  Dead, lying on the sand.  No apparent injuries

CCL = 49.0 cm

No tags found

Emaciation Code = 3

Email from Kara Smith that a tourist had reported a dead turtle at Puako.  After consultation with the reporter I was able to locate the turtle.  Turtle was bagged at

0918 h and transported to HPA freezer at 0950 h.  Body condition was poor.  No apparent external injuries observed.


Distance Traveled = 33 miles

Time alloted to recovery= 80 minutes

Case 3

Date:  11/2/2021 at 1530 h

Laura got a call from Megan that there was a hooked turtle at Kawaihae.  We were able to connect with the ocean sports boat captain at Kawaihae.  I was able to get down there at 1600 h and they were waiting for me.  They had retrieved the turtle from the water and removed excess fishing line and a small hook from the neck.  It appears that there is one hook and line deep in the throat… out of sight.  The turtle appears unharmed otherwise, and it is very active and EC = 0.  


Date:  11/2/2021 at 1530 h

Location:  Kawaihae, Harbor, Hawaii Island



Recovered by Ocean sport Crew

species:  Ei

CCL 42.0 cm

Hook apparently deep in throat

EC= 0

Animal is vigorous and otherwise uninjured

Turtle has been kept in a carrier overnight.  


Logistics (recovery):  Distance traveled:  22 miles

Time = 40 minutes

Case 4

Date:  1/11/2022

Location: Kohanaiki State Park

Lat:   19.692569°

Long:  -156.043167°


Call received from Sharon that they were watching a large turtle stranded 50-100 yards from the ocean.  Pictures were provided and we determined that it was in need of help.  We (Marc Rice and Laura jim) drove from Waimea down to Kohanaiki State Park and made our way to the far southern end of the park. We were met by Sharon and her husband and they showed us the turtle.  The turtle was dry, hot and lethargic but moving.  We observed that there was a 3/8 ” hole in the cranium to the right of the mid-line on the dorsal surface of the head.  The wound looked very much like a shaft spear hole.  With the help of park security personnel, we moved the turtle to an ATV and determined that we should give it a chance in the water… When the turtle was placed in the water it did not swim away … it layed there and let the water wash it about and even seemed. to want to move back out of the water.  

As a result of these observations, we decided that it would not survive on its own if released and we put the turtle into our vehicle to keep overnight and ship to Oahu the next day. 


Species:  Cm

CCL = 86 cm

tagging history is attached

EM = 0 (turtle apparently lives in/around Honokohau harbor and is very robust with rolls of fat)

Injuries:  3/8″ hole penetrating dorsal cranium to right of midline.



Distance traveled = 80 miles

Time from start to finish:  4 hours


Turtle kept at Marc Rice’s house for the night.


Turtle is alive as of 1400 hours and we have gathered and assembled an appropriate carrier.  HPA students will help load the turtle in the carrier

at 1500 hours and Laura Jim and Marc Rice will deliver it  to the Aloha Air Cargo Office at the E.O.Kona International Airport at ~1630 h


Distance traveled = 55 miles

Time devoted to logistics and travel= 3 hours

Turtle was delivered to Oahu.

Case 5

Date:  1/22/2022

Time: 1300 h

A park Ranger for Hui Aloha Kiholo called the HPA rescue hotline saying that there was a “large turtle” stranded some 20-30 meters from the water on the northern side of Wainanalii pond, Kiholo. Laura Jim and Marc Rice immediately got equipment together and drove down to Kiholo. The ranger met us at the gate and we drove to the TNC property .. north end of Kiholo Bay. We hiked out to the turtle and found that it was indeed about 20 meters from the water, stranded on the Pahoehoe lava.. it was “high-centered” on a dome shaped chunk of Pahoehoe lava. Some good tourists had been keeping an eye on the turtle and pouring some water on its back to keep it cool. We measured the turtle, recorded the tags and raised it up so we could get a look at the ventral surface. The only injuries that we could see were to the two front flippers where there was some minor abrasion from rubbing on the rock while trying to get off the dome rock. We then put the animal in a carrier box (at least most of it as it was bigger than the box) and , with the help of the ranger we were able to carry the turtle down to the water’s edge and release it. On submersion, the turtle immediately swam away and didn’t seem any the worse for its experience.  Relesserd at approximately 1400 h 

We felt that we shouldn’t give this turtle a oxytet injection because we weren’t sure if it had one or not.  I am thinking that a second dose would not cause any problems but ????

Why it was up on the rocks is not clear.. one week ago there was the Tonga  tsunami which did cause some inundation but I don’t feel the turtle could have survived for a week out on the hot lava. High surf and high tide are possibilities but that seems unlikely. This is a mystery at this point.

Species: Chelonia mydas 

CCL = 85.0 cm

CCW = 83.5

 LH PIT = 4349634767 RH PIT =1154193d1d LH Metal = H21

Tagging History- First captured at Kiholo in 1992, and again in 2003 and 2004 .. all at Kiholo.

Travel Statistic and Time Allotted to rescue/recoveryTravel distance = 45 milesTotal Time = 2.5 h

Case 1
Location:  Kukio Bay, Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Time:  1000 h

Personnel from Kukio called to inform me that there was a small turtle stranded/basking that did not react when moved… alive but totally lethargic.  I proceeded to get equipment and go down to check it out.  I picked up the turtle at 1216 h and transported it back to Waimea.  I will keep it overnight and take it to the airport tomorrow morning at 0700 h for transport via HI Airlines to Oahu.

Species:  Cm

SCL= ~40 cm

Location at time of recovery:

Lat:  19.818836

Long: -1560006589

Animal was minimally responsive with no apparent recent injuries.  Both front flippers have similar sections missing and healing.

Total distance traveled to effect recovery = 64 miles

Total time:  2.5 hours (Not including transport to airport)

3/20/21 – transported turtle to Kona Airport in an animal carrier and left it with the HI Airlines Cargo folks at 0745 h, 3/20/21… Flight 177.

Total Time (airport run) 2 h, Distance = 75 miles

Cumulative time for recovery and total distance = 4.5 h and 139 miles.


Case 2

March 19,2021
Date:  03/12021

Location:  Kukio Bay, Hawaii Island, Hawaii

Time:  1100 h

At 1100 hours, security reported that they had recovered a second dead turtle for the waters in front of the beach.

There are injuries to the eyes and left and right front flippers that appear to be similar to the turtle in case #1.

Species:  Cm

SCL= 43 cm

Location at time of recovery:

Lat:  19.818647°

Long: -155.998715°

Total distance traveled to effect recovery = 72 miles

Total time:  2 hours

Case 3

March 20,2021

Location:  Kukio Bay, Hawaii Island, Hawaii

Time:  1200 h

At 1200 hours, security reported that they had recovered a third dead turtle from the waters in front of the beach.  It was found lying on the bottom in10 feet of water.

Interesting that there are injuries to the eyes and left and right front flippers that appear to be similar to the other turtles.

Species:  Cm

SCL= 50 cm

Location at time of recovery:

Lat:   19.818876°

Long: -155.998950°

Case 4

March 26,2021

Injured turtle call:

Call from Kukio at 1049 that they had another small turtle.  It was found floating basically unresponsive in the water just off the beach and was retrieved by one of the beachboys.  It was alive but barely.  I left home at 1215 h and got to Kukio at 1300.  Picked up turtle from the beach shack and placed it in gray box for transport back to waimea.  Arrived in Waimea at 1400 h.

Date:  3/26/21

Time:  1015 h recovered from water

Location:  Kukio Bay, Hawaii Island

lat= 19.818760°

Long= -155.998826°

species – Cm

CCL = 41 cm

EC = 2.5

Injuries to left and right front flippers similar to other three… They were pretty well chewed up. attributed to HMS caused injuries by RA20.  There were no apparent injuries to the eyes.

NOTE:  the turtle died at approximately 1800 hours on 3/26/21 and has been placed in the HPA freezer.

Total distance traveled to effect recovery = 64 miles

Total time:  2.5 hours

Case 5

April 17, 2021

Line entangled turtle reported to Dolphin Quest by a tourist.  Report said that there was fishing line around the flipper and going down the throat.  Apparently, the tourist caught the turtle and removed as much of the line as possible.  the Hilton staff recovered the turtle and brought it to shore.  It was reported to us at 1300 h.  I left Waimea at 1330 hours and was at the hotel at 1400 h.  Security provided transport to the site and I walked out past the Dolphin quest ponds to the beach area in the lagoon.  The small turtle was stored in a small tourist paddle boat and I moved it to a carrier and began to work on the line around the right front flipper.  The helpful tourist cut what they could but left the main line strangulating the flipper. deeply embedded in the flesh of the right flipper.

I was able to remove all of the line from the right front flipper.

There were four lines going down the throat.  It was impossible to pull any of the four out so they were all cut as short as possible.

Curved measurements were taken and  PIT tags were put in the LH and RH.

Turtle was released at 1430 h into the lagoon area.  It swam away but did not use the right front flipper very much.  We will see how it does.

Date;  4/17/21

Hilton Hotel, Waikoloa, Hawaii Island

Lat:   19.925127°

Long:  -155.888038°

species- Cm

CCl= 48.0 cm

CCW= 43 cm

New Tags:  LH 982000406134832

RH 982000406133268

Total distance traveled to effect recovery = 60 miles

Total time:  2.75 hours

Case 6

June 15, 2021

Time:  1130 hours

Location:  Puako, in front of house number 84

Latitude:  19.967986 N

Long:  155.849485 W

Species:  Cm

CCL = 47.5 cm

No tags

Not obvious injuries

EC: 0

Found dead on sand at high tide mark by a resident of Puako.

Placed in the HPA freezer at 1230 h, 6/15/21.

Total Distance Traveled = 20 miles

Total Time: 1.25 h

Case 7

June 24, 2021

Location: Mahaiula, Hawaii Island,

Lat: 19°46’53.6″N

Long: 156°02’27.2″W

Time: 1440 call from tourist name Lam who Indicated there was a turtle washing around on the rocks.  After his images and video were observed, we decided. that we needed to investigate so we drove down to Mahaiula. When we arrived at 1550 h Lam was there to take us to the turtle.  It was washed up on the rocks. dead.  We carried it back to the car and drove back to Waimea.  The turtle was placed in the freezer at 1730 hours.

There were no apparent injuries except to the eyes which were very similar to the turtle at Kahalu’u and the turtles recovered from Kukio.  The tissue on the dorsal area of the eyelid was injured and healing but covered with a gelatinous material.  Because the body was somewhat bloated with decomposition gases, we could not determine the Emaciation Code status …

Size: CCL 43.0 cm

Tags: none

species Cm

Total Distance Traveled = 75 miles

Total Time: 3.5 h

Case 8

July 31, 2021

Call came in from DOCARE at 1900 hour that a dive boat had picked up a turtle with a hook and line attached.

I went down to Puako Launch Ramp and met the DOCARE officer there to take a look at it. It turned out to be a juvenile hawksbill turtle with a wire leader coming out of the mouth.  I used a speculum to look into the mouth but was unable to see a hook.  I told the DOCARE Officer that I would keep it overnight an seek advice from NOAA.

I will not be able to extract the hook as it appears to be quite deep in the throat.  The animal appears to be in relatively good shape and has been seen with the hook over a period of time. perhaps weeks.

species:  Ei

CCL = 56 cm

Location:  Puako Launch Ramp

19.974048° N

155.831403° W

Animal is alive and uninjured except for the hook.

Total Distance Traveled = 25 miles

Total Time: 1.5 h

This turtle was air freighted to Oahu where surgery was performed to remove the hook.

The turtle was unable to recover and was euthanized some days after the surgery.

Case 9

August 1, 2021

Turtle reported by VRBO guests at mailbox 118 Puako beach road.  They found a small turtle in the tidepool in front of their apt., captured it, removed the fishing line and then called me… they had tried three different numbers but finally got ours…

I immediately went down and inspected the turtle.  Both front flippers were severely impacted but the turtle still had some motion in both flippers.  All of the line had been removed.  I decided to give the turtle a chance to make its own recovery and, after putting a pit tag in the left hind flipper, we released it at high tide.  It swam slowly away seemingly using its front flippers.  I would not be surprised to see this turtle again.

Date: 8/9/2021

Time: 140 0 h


19.964895° N

155.854771° W

Species: Cm

CCL = 43 cm

Left hind pit tag:  982.000407341082

EC: 0

Turtle was released at 1445

Total Distance Traveled = 25 miles

Total Time: 1.5 h

During June and July, when tourism was at a peak, we received an average of 3 calls a week relating to basking turtles and/or turtles stranded in tide pools.  We responded to each of these calls by asking people to provide images via text and then talked to the reporter that the turtles were not in any danger and would do fine left on their own. This worked out very well and all of the folks we talked to were very appreciative of our response.