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Turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time but submergence time is much shorter while diving for food or to escape predators. Breath-holding ability is affected by activity and stress, which is why turtles quickly drown in shrimp trawlers and other fishing gear.
Hawaii Green Sea Turtle (Hono)
Look--but PLEASE don't touch...
Hawaii is home to an abundance of marine life, unfortunately careless use of our resources has placed a number of species in danger. The Ocean Recreation Council of Hawaii (T.O.R.C.H.) is an organization formed to enhance marine resources through the cooperative management of ocean recreation.
They are helping to spread public awareness about how to treat the ocean and marine life. Through careful conservation and simple common sense we can keep the ocean clean and beautiful for future generations. Remember when you go diving or snorkeling to keep an eye out for the exotic animals which live here, but please have respect for them and do not harm them or their home.
One of the ocean dwellers you may encounter is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Slow and clumsy on land, the threatened Green Sea is graceful and fleet in the water. These slow growing reptiles may not reach maturity until as late as 40 years and feed primarily on algae and limu that grow in the shallow waters. When fully grown they weigh as much as 400 lbs.
Turtles in Hawaii travel as far as 800 miles to the French Frigate shoals, northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands, to mate. The females laboriously crawl ashore, dig a deep nest in the sand and lay close to 100 round, leathery eggs. When the 1 ounce hatchlings emerge, they scurry rapidly for the protection of the sea, many falling prey to hungry crabs and sea birds on the way. It is estimated that only 1 or 2 from each nest may make it to maturity. Much is unknown about the lives of the turtles. We do know that they are a magnificent animal, deserving of our respect and utmost efforts to preserve them. Should you be fortunate enough to spot a turtle while diving, be very still and quiet. They can be quite curious and will often approach and give you the once over, or simply ignore you as they continue about their business. Green Sea turtles are air breathers, like us.
When they are active they must surface to breathe every 2 minutes or so; when they are sleeping, usually tucked under a ledge on the bottom, they can remain underwater for as long as 2 1/2 hours. However, when they are stressed, they use up their oxygen very rapidly and can drown. It is against federal law to ride or harass sea turtles and is punishable by heavy fines. If you see anyone harassing a turtle or if you observe a sick or injured animal, please go to the nearest phone and call Conservation Enforcement at 548-5918 on Oahu