In Hawaii, “turtle soup” means something different than in some parts of the world... It's that moment when you are on the ocean and suddenly you realize that there are Green Sea Turtles all around you. This is a common summer event in the water around Maui. In the winter, we have whales; in the summer, turtle soup. I've seen thousands of Green Sea Turtles (called Honu in Hawaiian) in my time here and amazingly, it never gets old. They are so beautiful, the way they fly through the water, so very slowly. It's adorable the way the young ones get startled so easily and dive down to the deep. It's equally awesome when the gigantic old ones don't give a $&*# about you being in their territory.
Today, while in the midst of turtle soup, we had one that was super curious about our GoPro in the water. It came right up to the camera and gave it a big smile. Then it moved on and checked out our boat. It seemed to especially like our bright yellow Ama. (see the video HERE!) Another one came up to the back of the boat and after a short time, gently bumped into our rudder. When our rudder didn't fight back, it swam down the hull to explore, not worried at all. It truly was a most magical experience.
As the only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, the Honu is a symbol of good luck in the form of a guardian spirit, or Amakua. The Honu pattern is depicted in ancient petroglyphs as well as in modern graphic form. You can find this symbol throughout the beautiful artwork of Jeanne Young, featured here on our silk pareos. For Hawaiians, the Honu represents the navigator, and the eternal link between man, the land and the sea. They are revered and respected, never fished. They can live many years and are important for the natural sustainability of the ocean eco-system.
You may have heard about the ban on plastic straws and plastic bags that is happening in many parts of the US. The reason for this is the beloved Green Sea Turtle. Plastic pollution in our oceans are mistaken for food and they are ingested by sea creatures. While they are ingested, they are certainly not digested, and they take up room in the stomach, eventually causing starvation. Other ocean debris, particularly plastic rings from 6-packs and broken fishing lines, can outright injure, maim, and kill ocean wildlife. These innocent creatures deserve to be cared for by those of us animals with the ability to do so. As we have a higher intelligence, we can make decisions in every moment for the good of our planet. As paddlers, who enjoy the ocean frequently, it is our duty, (our kuleana in Hawaiian), to do our part. The next time you have the opportunity to witness the beauty of a Honu in the ocean, please take a moment to let it know you will do your part to protect it. Aloha.