- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - State officials are working to protect Hawaiian petroglyphs believed to be more than 400 years old after their recent discovery along the coast of Oahu.

Lonnie Watson and Mark Louviere had been visiting the island from Texas when they came across the petroglyphs in July off the Waianae Coast.

“For some reason there was a beam of light.just a beam.it landed right on one of them and for some reason I just turned my head. I said, look, it was just a stroke of luck,” Watson told KITV-TV.

They had found at least 10 figures in the sand covering about 60 percent of the beach. Officials have since identified 17 carvings, with one carving measuring roughly five feet tall.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Division is working with the U.S. Army to document the petroglyphs.

“What’s interesting is the Army in Hawaii manages several thousand archaeological sites, but this is the first one with petroglyphs directly on the shoreline,” said Army archaeologist Alton Exzabe. What’s exciting for me, is I grew up coming to this beach and now as an archaeologist working for the Army, helping to manage this site, we discovered these petroglyphs that have never been recorded.”

Some people have said they’ve seen the petroglyphs before, Exzabe said, but it’s the first time they have been brought to the attention of state officials.

The petroglyphs were only viewable for a short time, as sand has moved back over them.

Exzabe said the Army is coming up with a plan to further protect and preserve the site.

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