The environmental team with Marine Corps Base Hawaii is making it their mission to maintain mission readiness while protecting endangered green sea turtles during the months of May through August aboard MCBH and Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.
Most adult green sea turtles that feed throughout the main Hawaiian Islands migrate to French Frigate Shoals in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to nest. However, an increasing number of green sea turtles are now nesting on the beaches of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Members of base environmental are monitoring and managing nesting sites across the beach aboard MCTAB.
Female green sea turtles lay about 100 eggs per nest and will nest every two weeks from May through August before leaving the nesting area. It is estimated that only 1% of the hatchlings will survive; therefore, it is important to keep these nests safe from any disturbance and give hatchlings the chance to make it from their nest chamber to the ocean.
“This is the first time MCBH has documented nesting at Bellows Beach,” said Keith Roberts, natural resources manager with MCBH environmental. “As this was unprecedented, the environmental division was quick to ensure further observation and protection measures for the identified nesting sites.”
“We mark them with posts, from there we rope off around the perimeter with high visibility orange rope,” said Dain Christensen, a bio science technician with the MCBH environmental division. “At 100 ft. we have signage making sure that the occupants of the beach keep a safe distance from the nests.”
“We haven’t documented them at this area before. It is really important to preserve them because the islands in the Northwest are really shallow which causes turtles to lose habitats, we want to make sure we can preserve as many habitats as we can for them.” Dain Christensen, a bio science technician
The MCBH environmental team is prioritizing keeping these nesting sites safe and protected, while balancing mission requirements in regard to training.
“We have volunteers that come out and assist us with monitoring and putting up signage,” said Roberts. “Those volunteers are escorted with MCBH environmental personnel.”
“Hatchlings begin emergence around the 55-65 day mark, on Oahu the average being about 60 days,” said Roberts.
“We haven’t documented them at this area before,” said Christensen. “It is really important to preserve them because the islands in the Northwest are really shallow which causes turtles to lose habitats, we want to make sure we can preserve as many habitats as we can for them.”
The Environmental Compliance and Protection Department carries out the functions of compliance, pollution prevention, conservation, installation restoration, and training, education, and outreach at MCBH such that it contributes to the combat readiness of Marines, and protect human health and the environment.
“We are here to ensure that training and recreation can continue while protecting natural resources at the same time,” said Roberts.