Who Mutilated Honey Girl?

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - July 30, 2008
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Honey Girl the honu crawls onto the beach at Laniakea
Honey Girl the honu crawls onto the beach at Laniakea

She sparkled in the sun and was a crowd favorite at Laniakea Beach on the North Shore.

“Honey Girl was our largest adult female that came up to bask on the beach, and she was so beautiful,” says Patrick Doyle, project coordinator of Malama Na Honu. “She was named after the honey coloring of her shell - yellow and butterscotch. She was definitely one of the turtles that many visitors and residents knew by name.”

A senseless crime has taken her away.

Many were stunned to learn Honey Girl was found slaughtered and mutilated at a spot known as “Turtle Beach.” A flipper was cut off, her organs found in the ocean and her beautiful shell buried in the sand.

“Not many people knew this, but she commonly came out to bask during a full moon,” says Doyle, who leads a volunteer group that provides information and protection of Hawaiian green sea turtles at Laniakea. “Whoever did this may have gone into the water and brought her out, but we think she was on the sand - a sleeping, defenseless animal.”

Waterman Nic Pacino fondly recalls the day last February when he first saw Honey Girl. Pacino was there to check out the surf, but instead was moved by the gentle ways of the 200-pound, 30-year-old honu.

“She was just a beautiful animal in her own natural habitat,” recalls Pacino. “She was moving slowly - so docile and so calm. She looked so peaceful and oblivious to all the attention she was receiving from the people watching her. I went up to the volunteers and they told me her name was Honey Girl.”

The male honu Kuhina pays last respects to Honey Girl
The male honu Kuhina pays last respects to Honey Girl

Pacino soon found himself taking pictures of the gentle creature. Like many others who came to know her, he, too, was shocked by the heinous crime.

“She was such an easy target and probably didn’t feel threatened by whoever did this,” says Pacino. “It wasn’t even a hunt. It blows your mind. Whoever did this basically hacked away.”

Hawaiian green sea turtles are protected by state law and the federal Endangered Species Act. It is a crime to even touch the threatened species. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is asking anyone with information about the killing to step forward.

“Whoever did this doesn’t have a sense of appreciation for nature,” says Pacino. “I don’t know if it’s anger - I’m more bewildered by the insensitivity.”

Pacino spends a lot of time in the ocean, kayaking and surfing, and has a deep appreciation for the ocean and the creatures that call it home, especially the honu.

“It’s almost like a good-luck charm when I see them,” he says. “I see so many kids get excited to see our turtles, and to have someone just take it away - it makes you think, ‘What other cruelty is this person capable of?’”

Volunteers immediately set up a memorial for Honey Girl in the spot where she was found. Two days later, a special visitor approached the memorial from the sea.

“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” recalls Doyle. “A large male known as Kuhina hauled out of the water and stopped at the memorial. It looked like he was staring at her picture. It was a pretty phenomenal sight to see.”

Kuhina stayed there for hours before calmly returning to the ocean. It was a final aloha to a dear friend.


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