Sea turtle populations OK after Kilauea eruption, report says

HILO >> The Kilauea volcano eruption did not critically damage sea turtle populations on the Big Island, according to a survey conducted by a Hawaii wildlife conservation group.

The Hawaii Wildlife Fund determined this month that lava did not harm turtle populations despite the persistence of unsubstantiated claims warning of turtle deaths during the eruption that began in May, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The wildlife organization conducted two helicopter flights above the lava-impacted coastline, observing 50 live turtles and other sea life. Turtle experts also were consulted for the survey, who agreed that sea turtles were likely able to escape lava en masse, said Kallie Barnes, the organization’s education coordinator.

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