In Hawaii, a coral reef infection has biologists alarmed

Kim Murphy
November 27, 2012

Hawaii Coral Reef Infection on Kauai - Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

HANALEI, Hawaii — When compiling a list of places that may be described as paradise, Hanalei Bay on the rugged north shore of the island of Kauai surely qualifies.

The perfect crescent bay, rimmed by palm trees, emerald cliffs and stretches of white sand, has always had a dreamy kind of appeal. It was on these shores that sailors in the movie “South Pacific” sang of the exotic but unattainable “Bali Ha’i.”

The problem is what lies below the surface of the area’s shimmering blue waters.

Since June, a mysterious milky growth has been spreading rapidly across the coral reefs in Hanalei and the surrounding bays of the north shore — so rapidly that biologist Terry Lilley, who has been documenting the phenomenon, says it now affects 5% of all the coral in Hanalei Bay and up to 40% of the coral in nearby Anini Bay. Other areas are “just as bad, if not worse,” he said.

The growth, identified by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey as both a cyanobacterial pathogen — a bacteria that grows through photosynthesis — and a fungus, is killing all the coral it strikes, and spreading at the rate of 1 to 3 inches a week on every coral it infects.

“There is nowhere we know of in the entire world where an entire reef system for 60 miles has been compromised in one fell swoop. This bacteria has been killing some of these 50- to 100-year-old corals in less than eight weeks,” Lilley said. “Something is causing the entire reef system here in Kauai to lose its immune system.”

Read more at LATimes.com…

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Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach
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About jw60sea

Jim Caldwell has over 26 years of experience in the public safety sector in occupations ranging from professional ski patrol, and ocean lifeguard to firefighter. Jim has worked for the Redondo Beach Fire Department for the last 22 years holding successively higher positions of responsibility. For the last six years, Jim has held the rank of Engineer with responsibility for driving and operating the Department’s Engines and Tillered Aerial Ladder Truck. Throughout his career, he has shown a dedication not only to public safety but also community service.
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