hawaii tagged posts

Concern for Coral Reefs after Maui Fires

In addition to the tragic loss of life and property on fire-ravaged Maui, scientists are also concerned about the environmental damage, both on land and under water. Biologists who have spent decades studying marine life in Hawaii fear the aftermath will endanger coral reefs and other marine life.

“The corals are attached to the bottom of the ocean, they cannot move,” said Dr. Jennifer Smith, director of the Marine Biology Research Division at UC San Diego. “So if you were to rain a bunch of sediment, ash, debris on top of them, they could essentially become smothered. Add to that a lot of this ash and debris could have chemical toxins.”

Manuel Mejia with the Coral Reef Alliance in Hawaii said coral reefs require clean, clear, low-nutrient water to grow.

“When you have ashfall ma...

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Hawaii bans sunscreens that harm coral reefs

child with sunscreen

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday signed the first bill in the country that will ban sunscreens containing chemicals harmful to coral reefs. The bill, which was passed by state lawmakers in May, will go into effect January 1, 2021. At that point, the sale or distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which help filter UV rays, will be prohibited.

A study by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, a nonprofit scientific organization, found the chemicals cause bleaching, deformities, DNA damage and ultimately death in coral when they’re washed off beachgoers or discharged into wastewater treatment plants and deposited into bodies of water.

“Oxybenzone is really toxic to the juvenile form of corals,” said Craig Downs, a forensic ecotoxicologist and executive...

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Secrets of fish population changes revealed

Life cycle of the bicolor damselfish

Life cycle of the bicolor damselfish, showing that understanding how the population changes depends on simultaneously studying the juvenile and adult fish on the coral reef as well as the larvae that disperse back to the same reef or between reefs in a metapopulation.

Populations of fish in the ocean are notoriously variable, waxing and waning in often unpredictable ways. Knowing what drives changes in fish population sizes is important for managing fisheries and conserving species.

For the first time, scientists have linked the ecology of adult fish populations inhabiting coral reefs with the dispersal of baby fish between reefs, reporting the dynamics of a living network called a “marine metapopulation.”

“It’s not like studying deer in a forest, where one need only count births and d...

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Hawaii is becoming a big floating cesspool

turtle in Hawaii looking at shore

Its reputation as a romantic island paradise is legendary, but Hawaii is facing an embarrassing problem with its sewage which could cost around $1.75 billion to fix. Surfers and snorkellers have fallen victim to skin infections and the state’s drinking water, its coral reefs and famous beaches are all under threat because of a cesspool crisis.

Cesspools are holes in the ground where untreated human waste is deposited and this waste is entering the drinking water in part of the state — pushing nitrate levels close to the legal limit.

According to the state health department, the state now has 88,000 cesspools across its eight major islands, more than any other state in the US.

As the state’s politicians scramble to find a solution, the report states that the cost of replacing each cess...

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Critical outlook for Hawaii’s reefs

Coral Outcrop

Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology says it is hopeful state lawmakers will draft a meaningful bill to protect the marine environment but time is running out. An associate specialist, Malia Rivera, said scientists recently presented information on the escalation of coral bleaching and the decline in reef fish stocks due to over fishing and environmental stress.

Almost half of Hawaii’s coral reefs were bleached during heat waves in 2014 and 2015 and fisheries close to shore are declining, with about 40 percent of the species classified as overfished.

Ms Rivera said scientists had been briefing the State Legislature on the critical outlook for coral reefs and inshore fisheries.

“Under a business as usual strategy the outlook is not promising for coral reefs in the coming decades...

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