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Punalu'u, Hawai'i 

Sea Turtle Research

Research at Punalu'u is primarily focused on threatened green sea turtles (Chelonia midas). The principal investigator is George Balaz of the National Marine Fisheries who is a world-wide authority on sea turtles and has been studying them at Punalu'u since 1982. At Punalu'u he is working with Marc Rice of the Hawai'i Preparatory Academy and faculty and students from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo Marine Option Program. Surveys are conducted three times a year under the guidance of Balaz using a federal permit. Turtles are carefully captured by hand (see the turtles area), marked using stainless-steel flipper tags, and weighed and examined for a wide variety of morphometric and ecological traits. These data allow a determination of turtle population size, survivorship, growth rate, movement patterns and diet. Through efforts such as this we hope to learn more about the population dynamics of green sea turtles which will aid in their conservation and preservation.

George Balaz of the National Marine Fishery service briefs UH-Hilo students about the procedure for capturing green sea turtles. UH-Hilo Professor Leon Hallacher directs students towards a feeding green sea turtle.
A captured turtle is carried on shore for tagging and measurement. Students assist George Balaz in examining a turtle.
A turtle is weighed. Large males turtles can weigh over 400 pounds! A tagged turtle is released back into the ocean after examination.

See the Gallery for more images of Punalu'u and Sea Turtle tagging.

For more information about sea turtles see:


Last update: 1/25/2005