Sea turtles inhabit the waters around Maui and the other Hawaiian islands.

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The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), or "honu" in Hawaiian, is one of several marine turtles in Hawaii.  
  The green sea turtle is the most common marine turtle in Hawaii. This is the species most likely to be seen by snorkellers and divers.
Green sea turtles' diets include certain types of algae (or "seaweed"). These turtles are often observed "resting" on the ocean floor, often in caves or under overhangs. Sometimes they aggregate in areas known as "cleaning stations", where fishes & invertebrates are often observed eating what may be algae growing on the turtles' backs or parasites which have attached themselves to the turtles.  
  Although turtles can be approached quite closely by divers, this should always be done slowly, and the diver should stop before it appears to make the turtle the least bit "uncomfortable", and certainly should back off if the behavior of the turtle begins to change.
Some turtles are very "friendly"--perhaps curious--and will actually approach divers. Even if a turtle approaches a diver, the diver should never attempt to touch or hold on to the turtle (e.g. for a "ride"). Besides being stressful to the animal--and therefore generally "bad form"--this is illegal. Both state law and the Federal Endangered Species Act generally prohibit harassing, harming, killing sea turtles of any kind. "Harassing" includes any activity that causes a change in behavior of the animal (e.g. "running away" from an approaching snorkeller or diver). (The turtle in this picture approached and circled 'round me as I hovered in a stationary position. My sister Laura took this photo.)  
  The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is another endangered sea turtle, much rarer than the green sea turtle in Hawaii. Hawksbill shells were historically used for making "tortoiseshell" combs, brush handles, eyeglass frames, buttons, hairclips, and jewelry. Additionally, people used to display "stuffed" baby hawksbills as curiosities. Fortunately, this is a thing of the past in some countries (e.g. U.S., including Hawaii), since marine turtles are protected by endangered species laws. Although these practices still occur in some countries (such as certain Asian countries), fortunately it is illegal to even bring such products into the United States.
After a many-years- long life journey to adulthood (sexual maturity), sea turtles come to land (sandy beaches) very rarely, and then it's only females, to lay their eggs. Most (all?) sea turtles return to lay their eggs to the very same beach where they were hatched, after years and hundreds of miles of travels in the ocean. It is a mystery how turtles perform this amazing feat of navigation.  
  Very few baby turtles survive to adulthood. As soon as they hatch, the tiny turtles scurry to the ocean & swim into the surf, if they are not eaten by seabirds or other predators on the way. Then, they face being eaten by any number of marine predators. Many of the problems marine turtle eggs & hatchlings face today are directly or indirectly human-related. Even before the eggs are hatched, there are many hurdles to overcome. Man-introduced dogs, rats--and even humans themselves-- raid turtle nests to eat the eggs. Beachgoing vehicles (ORVs, motorcycles, beach buggies). Upon hatching, baby turtles may go the wrong direction (instead of directly to the ocean) by following bright lights which line many beachfront areas today. These turtles, of course, are almost certainly doomed to die.
Even though marine turtles are theoretically protected by law, many are still killed by trawling nets from fishing boats, fishing practices such as "longlining" (unfortunately still legal), and strangulation by or ingestion of plastics (like the plastic "six-pack" holders for drink cans).  
  Fortunately, it's not all bad news. Although hunting of turtles prior to enaction of endangered species reduced their numbers drastically, at least some species are making slow comebacks in Hawaii. So, please be aware of the "little things" you can do to help: dispose of plastics properly, and don't chase or touch turtles if you have the opportunity to visit them! Remember, YOU are the guest in THEIR ocean home!

Information sources for the text on this page include:

"Sea turtles (no na nonu kai*), a coloring book in English and Hawaiian", written by Francine Jacobs, illustrated by Mary Beath, revised for Hawaii by Allen Tom, Hawaiian translation by Analu Okimoto; October 1995, produced by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with permission from the Center for Marine Conservation. (*"Na" in this phrase should have a macron [bar] over the letter "a" to be spelled properly in Hawaiian. However, I'm not sure how to reliably make this happen on a web page. If anyone can help me out with this, please e-mail me [ptdiver@philipt.com].)

However, a good bit of the "information" presented here is just stuff I just (think I) know; so please don't blame any inaccuracies on the source(s) above. Any errors in information are certainly mine; I solicit corrections, additions, or more good sources of information (please e-mail me at ptdiver@philipt.com).

For more information on sea turtles & other endangered species, check out: