Energy & Environment

Respect the Locals: Sea Turtle Selfies Are Uncool — and Illegal

State, federal officials remind public that harassing honu is against the law and can result in a fine.

·By Nathan Eagle

There’s a euphoric little scene in the animated film “Finding Nemo” where the father of the clownfish title character latches onto a sea turtle and takes a wild ride in the ocean currents.

Maybe that’s what inspired some local teens to grab a honu earlier this month in the waters of Waimea Bay.

Regardless, they should have known better than to harass a recovering species that is protected by state and federal laws, according to Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila.

There’s no reason anyone who lives in the Aloha State should not know that touching, feeding, riding, pursuing, harming or otherwise altering a turtle’s behavior is illegal, he said.

A teen rides a green sea turtle, June 11, 2014, in Waimea Bay.

Contributed photo

Noting the possible exception of a foreign tourist who just landed in Hawaii, Aila said that even then people should have enough common sense to know that these are wild animals that should be respected.

The June 11 incident at Waimea Bay ended with someone who was swimming nearby stopping and scolding the teens who then skulked off, leaving the turtle alone.

The green sea turtle got a respite, but as it swam along in the shallow waters along the coastline it encountered another group of kids and adults, who similarly started touching it and pointing their underwater cameras toward its face.

The scenes were observed — and photographed — by a witness who shared the photos with

About the Author

Civil Beat Staff

Nathan Eagle

Nathan Eagle is a reporter for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at neagle@civilbeat.coml or follow him on Twitter at @nathaneagle.
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Have you ever hugged wildlife? What could be done to stop people from doing so?