Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response to open full-time Sea Turtle Care Center on Oʻahu : Maui Now

Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response to open full-time Sea Turtle Care Center on Oʻahu : Maui Now
Sea turtle during nesting season. PC: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) announced Wednesday the launch of Oahu’s first full-time sea turtle emergency care and rehabilitation facility. After five years of development, the HMAR Care Center is set to accelerate its opening, thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). This grant, awarded through NFWF’s Sea Turtle Program, unlocks matching funding and facilitates the completion of an important conservation initiative.

In collaboration with Hawaii Pacific University (HPU), the HMAR Care Center will be located on the HPU Makapuʻu Campus in Waimānalo, accepting patients beginning in the summer of 2024.

Oahu bears the greatest burden of sea turtle emergencies, injuries, and strandings in Hawaii, with approximately 75% of the statewide total annually. The HMAR Care Center will play a pivotal role in the conservation and protection of these threatened species, including the green sea turtle (honu) and the hawksbill sea turtle (honu `ea or `ea).

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“Our dedicated volunteers, interns and staff are committed to providing emergency care and rehabilitation services to Hawaii’s sea turtles,” said John Gilman, HMAR founder and president. “We are dedicated to providing the resources and medical support needed to save these endangered animals.”

Brenda Jensen, dean of HPU’s College of Natural and Computational Sciences, emphasized the university’s enthusiasm for the partnership. “HPU is excited to collaborate with HMAR in providing a much-needed conservation resource,” Jensen said. “Our students eagerly anticipate new course, research, and internship opportunities to reduce human impact on turtles and their coral habitats.”

The HMAR Care Center plan and grant proposal received broad support from various government officials, agencies, and educational institutions, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources, the HPU, and the U.S. Congressional delegation representing Hawaii.

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In the following weeks, HMAR will provide updates about the new center through its social media channels, including staff recruitment, volunteering, training opportunities and sponsorship routes.

HMAR urges the public to report any sightings of sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, dolphins, whales or seabirds of concern to NOAA’s Statewide Marine Animal Hotline at 888-256-9840.

For more information, visit the HMAR website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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