What we do

Sea turtle swimming

The University of Hawaii at Hilo Marine Option Program Sea Turtle Stranding Response Team is made up of MOP Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. We respond to sea turtles in distress (or that are stranded) on the East Coast of the Island of Hawaii.

Examples of cases we respond to are:

  • turtles entangled in fishing gear or debris
  • tumored turtles
  • turtles injured from boat propellers
  • dead turtles

We may mount a response for any turtle that appears sick or abnormal, and requires some help.

We are a stranding team, and only have the resources to respond to turtles in shallow water or on shore.

If you have found a sick or injured turtle, contact us.

The injured turtles we pick up are transported by air to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Honolulu, where they will be examined and receive medical care if appropriate. Rehabilitated turtles are returned to the ocean.

Dead turtles are also transported to the NMFS where the Marine Turtle Research Program is headed by George Balazs, to be examined in order to determine cause of death.

Want to become an official response volunteer?

If you are a current UH Hilo student and would like to volunteer to be an official responder for the UH Hilo MOP Sea Turtle Stranding Response Team, please contact us at mophonu@hawaii.edu!