Let's Talk Turtles Outreach Event Draws Enthusiastic Crowd on the Island of Hawaii

June 16, 2007

PIFSC Science Director Sam Pooley (left) and sea turtle scientist George Balazs flank HPU science teacher Marc Rice at the Let's Talk Turtles public outreach event.
George Balazs talks turtles to the attentive audience.

On Thursday, May 31 over 100 people gathered at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort on the Island of Hawaii to learn about sea turtles from a pair of local experts on the subject. The special event was a PIFSC public outreach presentation Let's Talk Turtles. Doing the talking were George Balazs from NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) and Marc Rice from Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA).

They entertained and educated the rapt audience with tales of their 20 year's of collaboration on sea turtle research and conservation.

Balazs, the foremost authority on sea turtles in Hawaii, has spent most of his illustrious scientific career working to ensure the recovery of Hawaiian green turtles and has mentored, supported, and collaborated with numerous other sea turtle scientists across the Pacific. One of his most enthusiastic collaborators is Rice. Since 1987, the pair has worked together on important sea turtle research projects locally and around the world.

For over an hour Balazs and Rice captivated the audience as they described projects they have conducted on the Island of Hawaii, at French Frigate Shoals, in Japan and other locations. Their research typically has involved safely capturing turtles in nearshore waters, examining and measuring them, tagging them to ensure later identification, and carefully releasing them back into their natural habitat. Many of their projects have involved students, including those from HPA. With guidance from Rice, some students have devised their own research projects and some have even parlayed these early experiences into successful careers in research.

Balazs and Rice made sure the presentation was both informative and entertaining, frequently mixing the serious talk with funny stories about their experiences, their students and each other.

We thank the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort for the use of their facility and the Kohala Center for helping with event advertising. Generous support was also provided by Marc Rice and others at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy.