Hanaka’ape Bay Turtle Sanctuary Organization (HBTSO) Background
The impetus for creating the Hanaka’ape Bay Turtle Sanctuary (HBTSO) began in 2007 when Waikomo Stream mysteriously dried up for eight long months. Local residents became increasingly alarmed when initial speculationof a broken lava tube or other natural causes gave way to evidence that upstream water was being diverted to a local golf course. Letters and phone calls to local government authorities proved ineffective, while the devastation to local plant and marine life increased. After these eight disturbing months of local citizen activism – phone calls and writing letters to local authorities and newspapers – Gary Hooser, who was then State Senator, appeared to make the ‘right’ connection that got Waikomo Stream flowing again. Residents breathed a heavy sigh of relief, but have felt the pressing need for greater protection ever since.
On the east side of where the Waikomo Stream enters Hanaka’ape Bay, called Koloa Landing, there is a small strip of land that has remained hidden to the general public – more by inadvertent development and luck than good management – but to the much needed advantage of the sea turtles. A road was built above it with a stone retaining wall and non-indigenous cactus have gone to seed, creating an effective barrier to prevent people reaching the ocean by that route, and also hiding the turtles from the view of the hundreds of pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars that travel by daily. However, other than the general shoreline regulations that proved so ineffective in 2007, the area still has no formal protection in place. To strengthen and insure its well-being is a must, as it is privately owned and the pressures of human development are on the increase in every direction surrounding it.
This small protected cove, where the turtles daily surf over the small reef and feed at the mouth of Waikomo stream, is the only place on the south shore where they can safely haul out and rest. The goal of HBTSO is to create a large enough membership to be able to request state-legislated protection for the turtles and insure their sanctuary remains undisturbed. If this area was deemed off-limits to people, it would not interfere with the present access by diving charter businesses, nor would it interfere with local fishermen’s activities farther along the seawall (see maps). It would be limited to insuring the area north of the Koloa Landing easement, up to the mouth of Waikomo Stream, is protected from human access. With your help, this can become a reality.