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Sea Turtle Study has begun-Letter from Terry Lilley

Aloha Turtle Lovers, The last two days has been good for the coral reefs and sea turtles at Tunnels Reef (Makua) in Kauai. This area in Kauai has suffered a massive coral loss in the last three years and recently a bunch of sea turtles with flipper and shell damage. Due to my reporting to our government agencies with pictures and video of the problem, they responded the last two days in person. I want to thank them for doing so from the depth of my heart. Dr. Thierry Work from the USGS Infectious Disease department came over from Honolulu with his assistant Renee. Dr George Balazs from NOAA also came over to help with the project. George has over 30 years of turtle studies world wide and is the head of the NOAA turtle program and education. He is a very warm and loving person who knows more about sea turtles than anyone I have ever met. I was honored to learn from him.

Also helping with the research was Don Heacock from the Kauai Department of Aquatic Resources and Don has a life time of studying turtles here in Kauai! I was very happy he came along and I look forward to working with Don to figure out our reef problems!! I was more than happy to have these four experts along to help me figure out why our reefs are dying so quickly here along the north shore of Kauai. Dr Work was over here in Kauai studying the corals in 2012 at Tunnels, Anini, Charros, Hanalei and other locations. Since he was here last over 90 % of the corals have died in these areas. It was good to have him study the area and try to help figure out what is killing the reefs. We all have our own opinions as to what is killing the reefs so quickly, but by all working together we have the ability to figure out the problems and make the needed changes! It just takes a little time, money and connection to do so. Is the military killing our reefs with their massive amount of sonar and microwaves, or is it the GMO companies using Kauai as a chemical testing lab, or is it something we are not even looking at? Good science can figure this out so we do not have to guess.

The crew caught a sea turtle that had obvious damage to its shell and flippers. We all gently brought it to our research zodiac and did a blood test and biopsy. This info can help us understand what is going on with the health of the turtles and reef. The crew took extreme care to make sure the turtle had the least amount of stress as possible and we let it go quickly after its ordeal. I think this poor turtle thought it had been abducted by some creatures from Mars but she came to us for a purpose and we may be able to help her by doing these important lab studies!! Since the turtles are listed as Endangered Species I cannot just catch one by myself for study! The crew has a permit under the Endanger Species Act to collect turtles, whales, monk seas and corals! This is a permit I hope to have in the near future so I can help do this ongoing study with Don Heacock from the DAR and the USGS and NOAA crew. Bottom line : We are losing our marine life quickly along the north shore of Kauai and we all need to work together to understand why. This is not a political issue but it is all about leaving something for our kids and grand kids to enjoy like we have been able to do.

Two days, no sleep, rough seas and saving some kids on a kayak that were very close to the reef at Cannons has made me a we bit tired so please excuse me if my spelling is a bit off. I graduated in biology and not English!! Lets love and respect our marine life and work together to figure out our problems. When we got done with our studies today and rescuing the kids on the kayak at Cannons we were greeted by a school of spinner dolphin who were in their full glory!! Since the military started their sonar war games this was the only the fourth pod of dolphin I have seen along the north shore of Kauai since 2013 so it was a very special event. Aloha, Terry Lilley Marine Biologist

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