Hooray for Naupaka!

The beach of the mouth of the Lawa’i stream is the first glimpse a tourist gets of the Allerton Garden after boarding the tram (bus) from the South Shore Visitors Center near Po’ipu on Kaua’i. Our wonderful guide, Walt, stopped here for a moment to tell us a story.

Do you see those small green plants down on the beach, just on the other side of the stream? Some unimportant beach weed, one might presume. But it’s not. It’s called naupaka, or Scaevola taccada, and it’s in the Lobelia family, and it’s important, especially if you love turtles.

It seems that when a female Green Sea Turtle crawls out of the sea she notices what’s growing there and if the first plant she bumps into is not naupaka, she’ll turn right around and look for another beach. Turtles nested on the Lawa’i beach until 1992 when Hurricane Iniki  ripped through the Allerton garden. After several years of no turtles nesting on the beach, NTBG volunteers replanted naupaka. The following year, Green Sea Turtles returned to lay their eggs on the beach. Hooray!

The cove of the Allerton garden on Kauai, one of the gardens that makes up the National Tropical Botantical Garden. Sea Turtles have come back to lay their eggs here since garden volunteers and staff replanted naupaka.

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