That Unexplainable Pull Towards Home

by Keolu

E like me ka hoʻi ʻana o ka honu i kona wahi hānau, pēlā pū nā pua o Hawaiʻi 

 –  “Like the sea turtle returns to its birthplace, so do the children of Hawaiʻi”

Hawaiʻi as a place and culture is so special that kamaʻāina creatures feel its irresistible pull no matter how far away they roam.

The Honu's Journey

95% of the Hawaiian population of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) hatch on the atoll of Kānemilohaʻi, also known as Lalo or French Frigate Shoals. 

Honu hatch at night under the protection of darkness.  When they emerge from their nests they head in the direction of the brightest horizon.  Far away from the busy beaches of man, this direction will be towards the shimmering ocean reflecting the light of the moon and stars.

As hatchlings struggle their way across the sand and out through the waves, they geomagnetically imprint, that is to say they calibrate on the earth’s unique magnetic field of their natal beach to mark their home.

Once away from the shallows, hatchling honu wander the deep ocean for several years.  These years are referred to as “the lost years” because we don’t have a definitive answer where juvenile honu go.

What we do know is that after spending approximately 2 to 10 years at sea, honu return to the near-coastal waters of the Hawaiian Islands where they will continue to grow and mature.

When female honu reach sexual maturity between 25 and 40 years old, they follow the imperative programmed deep into their DNA to head home.

They know home is where the rest of their species gather.  There are many different kinds of turtles in the ocean but the ones that are just like themselves will be on those beaches.

That particular beach has been proven over countless centuries to safely hatch the next generation of honu.  They know in all of the vast sea, that’s where their offspring will have the best chance of beginning life in the ocean and continuing their species.

Your Journey

Kamaʻāina leave home for many reasons – jobs, education, housing, or other opportunities.  

While living abroad kamaʻāina search for their re-connection to home in many ways – by talking with ʻohana in the islands, cooking home foods, listening to local music, gathering in local member groups like hālau hula, or through Hawaiʻi community websites like this one.

I did the same thing when I lived away from home.

You Know Where Home Is

After years of wandering the deep seas, honu have an unexplainable pull to home because they are kamaʻāina.   Regardless of where you go, you will always have that indescribable pull towards home.  Its built inside you.

That indescribable lean you have to our islands is deep in your being.  Embrace that feeling and know, like our honu, you are kamaʻāina.

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