The first confirmed endangered hawksbill turtle nest on Kauai was recently found at Wailua Beach, just feet from where the county plans to install the concrete Path.
A Kauai man and his wife were walking on the beach this past Sunday morning when they discovered the nest, which had been exposed by big surf. “All of the eggs were mostly open and the babies were all gone,” the man wrote in an email. “Some did not make it, but most did.”
The couple contacted the Monk Seal Watch and a volunteer came out to view the nest and collect the unhatched eggs, which were taken to Don Heacock, the state aquatic biologist for Kauai.
Don today said the eggs were indeed laid by a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, “making this the first documented case of hawksbills nesting on Kauai. They nest on Maui and the Big Island. Of course we have more green sea turtles nesting than they do.”
Don said the nest was in the middle of the beach, across from the Coco Palms. “A majority of the nest hatched. There were a few unhatched eggs, and those embryos will be sent to [federal sea turtle scientist] George Balazs for DNA analysis.”
The man who found the nest wrote that he was concerned because it was “right near where they want to put a concrete walk way and cut down the trees which may disturb the nesting area.”
Among the primary threats to hawksbills are habitat loss of coral reef communities and increased recreational and commercial use of nesting beaches in the Pacific, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service website.
“In particular, increased recreational and commercial use of nesting beaches, beach camping and fires, litter and other refuse, general harassment of turtles, and loss of nesting habitat from human activities negatively impact hawksbills,” according to the website.
Meanwhile, severe erosion continues at Wailua Beach, where the county plans to soon begin removing trees in preparation for digging down about 18 inches to pour sections of concrete for the Path. The sections will be taken up only if erosion threatens the highway, according to county officials.