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Turtle Love - Part 2

So, when you are on Active Turtle Alert, keep this in mind: from the shore, sea turtles can be readily glimpsed as they come up to breathe. However, given that they are underwater most of the time snacking or snoozing, realize that you've really got to pay attention if you want to see that surface breath. A nap can be two hours long! Some turtles seem to hang out at the surface for a while like huge, greenish oceanic flying saucers (adult greens and hawksbills can easily grow to about 300 lbs in their olden, golden years)(and no, we don't yet know how long they live but scientists suspect it's a loooooong time, like possibly longer than us). My favorite surface sea turtle sighting is seeing their little pointy butts up in the air as they aim their heads down at some yumlicious bit of algae on the reef. But then, that's me.

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There is one more sea turtle in Hawaii, but it's found way out in the very deep and blue part of the ocean, the part Hawaiians call moana. That's the leatherback - absolutely huge at a ton or so, and at this point critically endangered. A mind-blowing thought (for me, anyway) is that a sea turtle so danged big subsists on hearty meals of...jellyfish. They grow to vast proportions by slurping little floaty bags of mostly water. Nature—what a joker!

Anyway, if you are in the water on Active Turtle Alert, remember that many sea turtles will be below you somewhere, napping like we just discussed. They may be wedged into the reef a little bit. (My favorite position is when some clever 200-lb. animal has just her head under a shelf of reef, as if this makes the rest of her disappear, too.) Or, they may be crammed under as much as they can be. So, look down for that distinctive curve of a shell, or for a flipper or two poking out here and there.

Never ever, ever approach or come at, chase, crowd, try to feed, touch or in any way freak out a sea turtle. They've been through enough, don't you think? Remember, being long-lived as they are, many of them might remember the joys of being hunted. (And people still do illegally poach sea turtles.) Harassing turtles is very much against the law. You could be cited and fined. Don't chance it. And anyway, is that how your mother taught you to behave? So, be the Good Egg. Be the Protector on the Side of Good. Hang back and let the turtle snack or breathe (like you) or dream sweet turtle dreams of endless fields of succulent algae. If the turtle comes to you to take a look, be cool. Just hang there. Make a little eye contact and consider it your blessing of the day.

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