Coral reefs are foundation for marine life in Hawaii, supporting 25% of all marine species on the planet
Sponsored by Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center is dedicated to educating its guests and the public about why coral reefs are so important to our planet and their importance to the ocean’s health. Coral reefs are the foundation for marine life in Hawaii. All the corals you see at Maui Ocean Center are alive. There are over 40 species of Hawaiian corals under the center’s care comprised of reef-building coral and rare and endemic corals, meaning they are found only in Hawaii.
Coral is classified as an animal, but many of Hawaii’s corals have a mineral and plant component. Director of Education, Lily Solano, invited HI Now host Jobeth Devera to the center to explain the coral anatomy in detail. She explained that reefs occupy 1% of the ocean but provide support for 25% of all marine species.
At the center you will learn that Native Hawaiians understood their genealogical connection to corals. In the Kumulipo chat, corals or ko’a were the first beings to usher all of creation. They are recognized as elders and treated with the same respect.
Coral bleaching is a problem in the Hawaiian Islands and globally, and is associated with the devastation of coral reefs. The main stressors that trigger bleaching events are warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. It occurs when a coral polyp expels an important algae (zooxanthellae) that lives inside its tissue. This occurs when corals face extended periods of environmental stressors. Without the algae, corals turn white, hence the term bleaching, and ultimately can result in coral mortality.
You can help save coral reefs!
– Primarily reduce any additional stressors from impacting corals through habitual changes
– Practice reef etiquette: stand on the sand, reduce pollutants, avoid chemical sunscreens and use mineral-based sunscreen or UV protective clothing, etc.
– Be informed on current events and opportunities to help. Be aware when visiting Hawaii of these issues and that corals are alive. Be careful when enjoying the beach and help us protect these delicate ecosystems.