Hawai'i Wildlife Discovery Center Guides Honu Hatchlings to Sea


“We are so thankful to you all at KaiAloha! We’re providing the shirts to our regular volunteers who participate at our Honu and Nest Watches at Ho'okipa and south Maui," executive director and co-founder at Hawai'i Wildlife Discovery Center, Hannah Bernard said after receiving 100 new volunteer shirts donated by KaiAloha Supply.


KaiAloha Supply is happy to partner with Hawai'i Wildlife Discovery Center (also known as Hawai'i Wildlife Fund). Their environmental initiatives include honu (turtle) rescues, honu hatchlings, and beach cleanups. Over the past month, they’ve held Nest Watches and Night Patrols for volunteers to contribute to every week. As of October 2, 2023, a nest erupted which they are classifying as a main emergence. This means that the following 24 hours are crucial for volunteers to keep the hatchlings safe.


A group of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund volunteers protecting endangered hawksbill hatchlings at Palauea Beach, Maui. (Photo courtesy of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund)


Volunteers in action. Left: Honu Watch project manager, Magdalena Carey monitoring green turtles basking at Ho'okipa. Right: Hawai'i Wildlife Fund executive director Hannah Bernard and crew excavate an endangered hawksbill sea turtle nest on October 2, 2023. They rescued trapped hatchlings. (Photo courtesy of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund) 


Honu hatchlings making their way to shore at Palauea Beach, Maui. All monitoring and excavation activities are carried out by trained Hawai'i Wildlife Fund biologists and volunteers operating under endangered species permits with state and federal agency partners. Never touch, approach, or harass sea turtle hatchlings or adults in the wild. (Photo from video by Ben Caswell using a zoom lens)


Outside of their community service, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund also hosts artists and events at their Discovery Center, located on the 3rd floor of Whalers Village. Their bright lighting and inviting blue hues set the tone for family friendly activities, engaging artwork, and a gallery of photographs that depict the beauty of the Hawaiian islands. They also have a keiki (kids) art room and an interactive area that consists of 3 projectors and 5 surround sound speakers. Inside this room, you stand at the center of ocean waves, underwater footage of sea animals, a timelapse of golden hour sunsets, and dynamic bird’s eye view angles of island landscape and nature sounds. The Discovery Center experience is meant to teach guests about ways they can help the environment and of course, learn more about the island’s values.


Left: Hannah Bernard talking about one of the Hawaiian values [Hō'ihi = respect] they have on display when you first enter the Discovery Center's gallery. Right: The projector room of the Discovery Center that has a bench and bean bags for seating. (KaiAloha Supply / Sophia Ramos)


Left: Collected items considered trash from a beach cleanup. Lighters are spelled out to say, "Is this yours?" Right: Collective trash placed in plastic bottle containers where we can easily spot golf balls, straws, cigarettes, and toothbrushes. (KaiAloha Supply / Sophia Ramos)


Since the devastation of the Lahaina Fires, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund has also used their Discovery Center as a learning space for children. “For the kids who still need to be enrolled in some kind of school, we host educational outreach programs for them at the Discovery Center,” Bernard said. She also shared that the Westin Keiki Club and Hawaii Technology Academy, a school from the Westside, visits frequently to experience the Discovery Center. "While we work with schools and groups, we are still welcoming our Westside keiki and 'opio to come and learn," Bernard shared. 


Westin Keiki Camp, comprised of children who lost their homes in the Lahaina Fires, visits the Hawai'i Wildlife Discovery Center twice a week to learn more about native wildlife and creative art. (Photo courtesy of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund)


Hawai'i Wildlife Fund encourages visitors and locals to join them while it is Turtle Nesting and Hatching Season! Reach out to their volunteer coordinator, Tara at mauihonu@wildhawaii.org for more information.