Welcome Respectful Viewer, Sea Turtle Supporter

You’re here to relax and lay out on the beach—so are the turtles. Give them some space to soak up the sun. Remember to always hang back from honu (turtles) and keep a distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) whether on land or in the water. Mahalo (thank you) for being a mindful photographer and viewer of the sea turtles.

A respectful distance is at least the length of a compact car

Witness Wonder in the Only Place in the World

Seeing sea turtles crawl from the ocean to rest on the beach is an incredible experience that most people never have the opportunity to see. Hawai‘i is the only place sea turtles do this. Experts believe they are reclaiming habitat here that was previously lost due to pressure from people hunting them.

Maintaining the minimum 10-foot respectful distance at all times and not blocking their access to/from the water helps encourage them to continue to lay out on the beaches. Plus you avoid getting a ticketed fine upwards of $1500 for harassment of this state and federally protected species.

Protect and Honor the Awe

Observing resting sea turtles is an exciting moment that can inspire feelings of wonder and awe. Being in the presence of one of nature’s most magnificent creatures is truly an amazing experience, even from 10 feet (3 meters) away.

Being a respectful viewer not only supports the safety and wellbeing of the turtles, but it also honors the Hawaiian cultural significance of the species as spiritual guardians or ‘aumākua.

Capture the Moment, Inspire Others, Show Off Your 10

Respectful people don’t get closer than 10 feet (3 meters) to sea turtles, whether on land or in water, and can still get a great photo. Taking a sea turtle photo from a distance can show off some of the famous Hawaiian landscape in your shots. If you want a close-up, use your zoom or crop the photo in your phone’s image editor or a social media app.

Below are fun ideas to mindfully and safely capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience while inspiring others to do the same.

Do a Little More

Your small actions are BIG to sea turtles, the local community here in Hawai’i, and the environment we all share. You can help a little more by…

  • Inspiring others by sharing your sea turtle supporter actions. You can post your respectful sea turtle photos on the hashtag #ShowOffYour10.

  • Remembering your respectfulness when you’re in the water, too. Sea turtles are protected under State and Federal Law, wherever they may roam.

  • Never feeding them, not even natural vegetation/plants (limu). Sea turtles are a keystone species and their natural foraging habits are not only critical to their own health, but also to the health and viability of other species and the ecosystem.

  • Picking up litter and fishing line. Of course you’ll take care of your own litter, but picking up even 1-2 items of litter that isn’t yours can help ensure it doesn’t end up in the ocean to potentially harm sea turtles and other marine wildlife.

  • Keeping lights, flashlights, and camera flashes OFF while you’re on the beach. If you must, use the dimmest lighting possible, keep it shielded from the water, and use red or orange colored lighting. Camera and cell phone flashes can startle and temporarily disorient adult sea turtles. Bright white lights can disorient baby sea turtles from getting to the ocean after hatching. Learn more about wildlife-friendly lighting.

  • Opting for reusable items when packing for the beach. You’ll generate less trash and usually these items are heavier and less prone to blowing away.

  • Learning more about sea turtles and what you can do:

Report a Wildlife Problem

For Emergencies
Call Hawai‘i Statewide Marine Animal Stranding, Entanglement & Reporting Hotline
888-256-9840

For non-emergencies involving sea turtles, dolphins, seals, or whales
Email photos and videos of non-emergencies: RespectWildLife@noaa.gov

For Law Enforcement
Report via the Hawai‘i DLNR Tip App by searching for DLNRTip App in iTunes or Google Play store, or by clicking either of the links below on your mobile device. Or, you can call 808-643-3567.

Get it on Google Play
Download from Apple App Store

About Us

Sea Turtle Supporter

This campaign was created by communication faculty, students, and professionals at Colorado State University in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and Pacific Islands Fisheries. Our goal is to help encourage respectful viewing of protected marine wildlife in Hawai‘i through science-based communication approaches. Once complete, the results of this project will be made available on this website and from NOAA Fisheries.

You are welcome to contact Principal Investigator, Dr. Katie Abrams at katie.abrams@colostate.edu. Aloha!

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