Kiholo Bay is located in South Kohala on the Island of Hawaii and is home to many Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles or “honu” in Hawaiian. A miniature peninsula extends from the north end of Kiholo Bay forming a calm protected lagoon. Known as Wainanalii Pond, fresh water seeps up from the bottom of the lagoon and turns the otherwise salty sea water brackish. The fresh water also turns the placid waters of the lagoon a beautiful cyan color.
Kamehameha the Great built a fish pond at Kiholo Bay in 1820. It was 2 miles in circumference with rock walls 6 feet tall and 20 feet wide. But a lava flow from Mauna Loa in 1859 destroyed the fishpond and just a few remnants of the fishpond remain today. A miniature island now blocks most of the entrance to Wainanalii Pond.
Honu are found throughout Kiholo Bay, but they seem to be drawn to Wainanali’i Pond where they gather in considerable numbers. They often crawl out of the water onto the shores of the lagoon. In this photo taken from the miniature peninsula that separates the lagoon from the rest of the bay 14 turtles can be seen basking in the sun. Honu (chelonia mydas) are indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands and are a threatened species.
A pair of honu or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles bask in the sun on an old pahoehoe lava flow while other turtles swim in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon. The white domes on the far shore of the lagoon are also sun bathing turtles — there are 14 turtles in this photo. The mountain in the background is Hualalai and the cinder cone of the left flank of Hualalai is Puu Waawaa.
In this close-up of a young honu no more than 8 inches across you can see the star-burst patterns on the plates of its shell.
Here is a photo of an old honu. As honu mature, the star-burst pattern on its plates disappear and the individual plates that make-up the shell fuse into a single shell or carapace.
Here is a collage (compostite image) made with the previous 3 photos. It depicts in a single image how the shells of honu transform as they grow and mature at Kiholo Bay.