Invasive Algae Removal Effort in Kāne‘ohe Bay Making Excellent Progress
250,000 lbs of invasive algae removed, 20 acres of coral reefs cleared, 150,000 native sea urchins released in past 18 months
HONOLULU, HI | December 24, 2013
After a year and a half of working in Kāne‘ohe Bay, the Conservancy and the State have removed 250,000 pounds of invasive algae from more than 20 acres of reef. The Conservancy’s new Super Sucker barge and mini-super sucker have nearly doubled the previous capacity with the State barge to remove invasive algae from the bay.
To keep it from growing back, the State Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has been raising native sea urchins at its Anuenue Fisheries Research Center. Since 2012, they have released 150,000 urchins onto the bay’s reefs. More urchins are needed to keep pace with the algae removal and the State hopes to produce and release more than 200,000 urchins in 2014. All the invasive algae is given to local farmers to use as compost.
On land, the Conservancy’s Kāne‘ohe Bay marine coordinator, Kanekoa Kukea-Shultz, has worked with a range of community organizations, farmers and government agencies, to restore fishponds, agricultural lands, cultural sites and the surrounding wetlands. According to Kukea-Shultz, “Together we have cleared 10 acres of former pasture lands, and are re-creating the rich, productive land that once served alongside a healthy bay to feed the people of Kāne‘ohe and the island of O‘ahu.”
Outreach projects have reached thousands of community members, volunteers, students and families through work days, projects and contests. Activities in 2013 have included: - community algae pulls at Paepae o He‘eia and at Waikalua Loko fish ponds
- clearing weeds and building terraces to plant and grow taro lo‘i with Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi and Papahana Kuaola
- an Earth Day art contest at Windward Mall that reached more than 800 4th-8th grade students and their families
- a compost giveaway that benefitted Windward farmers and gardeners
- “adopt a reef” with nearly 2,000 children from the Kama‘aina Kids program
- a new "touch tank" built by Eagle Scouts from an old boat at He'eia State Park that allows children and visitors to see the urchins up close and learn about the role they play in restoring the bay.
- An online fundraising campaign, Float our Boat!, that raised $20,000 for a new work boat for the Conservancy's Super Sucker crew.
“Kāne‘ohe Bay provides so much to so many people,” says Kim Hum, the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i director of marine conservation. “You look out here and it’s just beautiful. Hundreds of people use the bay every day. But I think most people don’t understand what’s going on underneath the bay, that there’s a problem here. The good news is that we know how to fix it, and we just have to continue to work together to do that.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org