Friday, 8 October 2010

Harry the Hawaiian green turtle

I almost stepped on this fellow it was so dark. The camera lies here because it was actually very dark but I took a couple of long exposure photos of what I originally thought was a small rock and hoped he wouldn't move (it might be a she, I don't know how to tell). Harry kept as still, er, as a rock.

Harry is a very small Hawaiian green turtle. When fully mature they are massive - 200 to 300 pounds and three to five feet long. Harry is a juvenile at just over a foot long and seems to enjoy disguising himself as a rock at twilight. This particular beach is my favourite spot for watching these turtles as they often leave the water to sunbathe on the rocks or sand, but Harry is by far and away the smallest I've seen there.

These turtles are an endangered species and you're not supposed to get too close, so as soon as I realised Harry wasn't a rock I backed off and took these pictures. Fortunately he didn't seem too upset by my appearance and was quite happy to pose. Maybe he was happy to see that all the sunbathing tourists had left and like me wanted to watch the beautiful sunset.

And it really was quite dark. The rock photo above was from the exact same point just afterwards but looking the other way.


Anonymous said...

What do turtles eat? When I was a kid, I bought a small turtle from a store in downtown Honolulu for less than a dollar.

It was about 3 inches long. I placed it in a small bowl of water and fed it bits of beef and lettuce. It ate both, though I had no idea if beef and lettuce were good for it.

Can't remember how long I kept it or whether it died prematurely.

Tom said...

Gigi - (I apologise for calling you "giga" all this time, no excuse, I'm not dyslexic!) - I'm no expert but from the little reading I've done mature Hawaiian green turtles eat mostly algae but won't turn down a treat if they get one. Younger turtles seem to be more of a mix between herbivores and carnivores but mostly they seem to be scavengers and will eat whatever they find.

I think it's amazing that the mature adults, all 200-300 lbs of them can survive eating algae but what do I know?


Keera Ann Fox said...

Hiya, Harry/Harriet! Good-looking fellow/gal!

Tom, a cow weighs about 4-6 times what an adult green turtle weighs, and (usually) survives on nothing but grass. I wonder if turtles have extra stomachs?

Tom said...

I suspect they only have one stomach given they start off very small (3-inches I think!). Still, there's a lot of grass on the planet but algae can be quite hard to find!

Then again, they don't seem to do very much (just like cows) - just hang around in the shallows and occasionally come on the beach to sunbathe.


Keera Ann Fox said...

…And get their picture taken. ;-)