Restoring the Coral Reefs of Maunalua Bay

Benefits of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs globally provide a wide range of ecological and economical benefits. The reef breaks up wave energy protecting our coastlines, provides a habitat for a wide range of fishes and invertebrates, acts as a carbon sink converting CO2 into O2, and holds major cultural, economical, and biological significances

Current Threats

Global stressors such as climate change and ocean acidification as well as local stressors such as overfishing, overexploitation, and eutrophication are causing rapid degradation in our coral reef ecosystems. Current projections indicate that if nothing changes, ~70-90% of shallow coral reefs will disappear within the next two decades

Demand for Restoration

The overall aim of coral restoration is to give reefs a second chance at life. However, if the stress causing degradation is not removed, then it is likely the reef will degrade again. Restore with Resilience aims to restore the coral reefs of Hawai'i  with the thermally-resilient species within each population.  

Maunalua Bay Restoration

Maunalua Bay is one of  three locations where the restore with resilience project is currently operating. Maunalua bay holds tremendous marine biodiversity ranging from cryptic benthic invertebrates to some of the largest marine mammals in the world. Due to this bay having high wave energy as well as being a watersport hotspot, corals see localized anthropogenic stress (anchor damage, overfishing etc) coupled with the ever-present chronic stressor, climate change. The restore with resilience project aims to give these corals a chance to thrive against adversity.

They do so by finding corals of opportunity, corals that have broken off the reef. These corals are then transferred to a nursery table where the threat of smothering is relieved and they will be able to photosynthesize. Once they have recovered, fragments are taken to a lab-setting where the temperature of the water is incrementally increased to find the most resilient colonies within each species. Resilient colonies are then fragmented and placed back onto the nursery table, where they will eventually be out-planted back onto the reef.  Replenishing the coral stock of a reef with more resilient colonies gives these corals an advantage when facing future coral bleaching events. 

The nursery table is currently back under construction, and will be deployed early-mid 2023 via the restore with resilience project. We are conducting ecological monitoring at the adjacent reef, turtle canyon. When the nursery is re-deployed, we will assist in the collection of corals of opportunity, attachment to the nursery table, monitoring coral health, and maintenance of the nursery table. For more information on this project and how you can get involved on land, check out Malama Maunalua

*Do not touch or handle live coral without the proper authorization/permits*