HIMB and conservation group work with community to restore reefs

In an effort to rehabilitate a vital waterfront on Oahu, an ocean conservation group began a first of it’s kind project to rebuild coral reefs in Maunalua Bay.

Malama Maunalua and the Coral Resilience Laboratory at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology launched the “Restore with Resilience” project Saturday morning.

Organizers said over 4,000 thermally resilient and locally sourced coral fragments will be planted to help rebuild coral reefs. They said this project is essential in order to ensure the survival of coral for future climate conditions.

Community volunteers took two samples then attached them to aragonite plugs to help scientists assess the coral’s resilience to warmer temperatures in specialized tanks.

“What we are doing here is exactly like the research that we do at our lab on Coconut Island, Moku o Loʻe, and we are just bringing it to the community having them do all the procedures that we do. So its part of an actual research project,” said Kira Hughes, program manager of Coral Resilience Lab.

Malama Maunalua said the coral fragments will be planted at strategic locations across the bay.

“The Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology has been testing this methodology of fragmenting corals to figure out if they will survive warmer waters then replanting them in the reefs,” said Doug Harper, executive director at Malama Maunalua.

“The reason that this is necessary is that with climate change a lot of the reefs are going to be bleached and potentially die.”

The organization said researchers will also employ 3D mapping to monitor coral health and growth.

Volunteers and organizers said the hope is that the fragments will grow and reproduce over time and enhance the overall resilience of the reefs in Maunalua Bay.

Source: Hawaii News Now story