Roughly four years after the worst mass bleaching event in Hawaii, scientists are “thrilled” to say that the state’s coral reefs are finally stabilizing.
According to surveys conducted by The Nature Conservancy, Hawaiian coral reefs are showing signs of growth and stabilization. The healthier reefs were generally located away from excessive exposure to human influences, but even the vulnerable cauliflower coral species that experienced 98% bleaching in 2015 has shown signs of recovery.
“Bleaching events like what occurred in 2015 can overstress a coral reef to the point where it may never recover,” said Eric Conklin, director of marine science for the organization’s Hawaii program, as reported by West Hawaii Today.
“We surveyed over 14,000 coral colonies at 20 sites along the West Hawaii coast from Kawaihae to Keauhou and were thrilled to see that many of the area’s reefs have stabilized, which is the first step toward recovery.”
The news outlet goes on to say that only 6% of state waters and 12% of nearshore waters are currently managed by the Hawaiian government — but legislators are aiming to increase nearshore protection to 30% over the course of the next eleven years.
With the help of the TNC surveys, state lawmakers hope to implement legislation that will efficiently protect reefs from stressors such as pollution runoff and commercial fishing.
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