Helping coral in peril

April 13th, 2012  |  by  |  Published in Multimedia, Research News  |  2 Comments

An outbreak of coral disease in Hawaiian waters concerns researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology.

Recent news headlines about coral disease in Kāneʻohe Bay, like the one reported in the video, above, have lead many to wonder how they can help mitigate the next inevitable coral disease outbreak.

Greta Smith Aeby headshot

Greta Smith Aeby

“Corals living in our near shore waters need clean, clear water to thrive so they can manage growth of just 5-10 centimeters a year,” explains Greta Smith Aeby, a leading scientist working on coral health at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology at Coconut Island. “They also require a high abundance of reef fish to eat away fast-growing algae.”

Reduce land-based pollution

An easy way to help keep the water clean and the algae populations under control is to reduce land-based pollution.

“Anything put on the ground in Hawaiʻi eventually runs into near shore waters,” Aeby says emphatically. This includes everyday rubbish and the pesticides, fertilizer and herbicides routinely used in yard care. Aeby strongly believes we all have to pitch in and do our part to reduce our use by composting, recycling and looking for greener options.

Be the Eyes of the Reef

People may have heard in the news about serious coral disease outbreak in Kāneʻohe Bay, but, warns Aeby, “Is there any disease outbreak occurring in Waiʻanae? Or on Maui? Has anybody looked?”

Eyes of the Reef, which Aeby helped found and leads, is a network of hundreds of volunteers statewide–people who love the ocean and spend time in and on the water–who keep an eye on the coral.

Two-hour training sessions offered several times a year on various islands, teach volunteers how to spot and report instances of disease, bleaching or other coral trauma. This makes it easier for scientists to collect data and understand outbreaks.

Find out about the next Eyes of the Reef training, email or call (808)953-4044. Special training sessions can be arranged for groups of 10-20 people.

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  1. Ben M says:

    June 24th, 2012at 9:10 pm(#)

    That is scary. I remember a time when the reef at Hanauama Bay was live and vibrant. A recent trip there put me in a state of shock as to how dead things have become. If there is a way to reverse it, we need to do so..

  2. Link says:

    September 6th, 2012at 11:11 am(#)

    Between human intervention and disease, coral just can’t catch a break.