Earth & Sea Project: Restoring Maunalua Bay

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
Dr. Bob Richmond
Dr. Bob Richmond
Yimnang Golbuu
Yimnang Golbuu

HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - There are fresh efforts to revive the unhealthy waters at Maunalua Bay. There is an aggressive push to conduct sort of a physical exam on the bay to help stop the destruction of coral reefs and marine life there.

All the development in the surrounding area has caused Maunalua Bay to deteriorate. The lead researcher says in his 30 years of experience, the damage is among the worst he's seen.

A wave of relief is now washing over community members who are fighting to save Maunalua Bay's troubled waters.

"This is my home, this is my aina, this is my responsibility," said Laura Thompson of Niu Valley.

At the Hawaii Kai Library Tuesday night, members of Malama Maunalua announced plans to tag-team with the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Kewalo Marine Laboratory.

"These are probes that will measure a number of things going on in the ocean," said Dr. Bob Richmond, a research professor at Kewalo Marine Laboratory.

Dr. Richmond says they will submerge equipment to detect what's stressing out the bay, including a radar gun that checks the speed that sediments zoom through the water.

"Faster speeds are no good if it's close to shore and we get this huge river of freshwater coming out to the bay," he said.

Freshwater alone harms marine life. When you add pollutants like gasoline and pesticides, it becomes a toxic mix.

Right now, runoff is channeled so that it comes rushing down all at once at high speeds, carrying dirt and trash into the bay.

"What we need to do is the exact opposite, dissipate the energy over a greater area," said Dr. Richmond.

But researchers say science alone isn't enough.

"The most important thing for Hawaii should be the good partnership with community members and everybody," said Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Researcher of Palau International Coral Reef Center who is helping with the new study.

Golbuu says a collaborative effort is critical to restore the bay before problems hit a breaking point.

Dr. Richmond says if their plan works at Maunalua Bay, it could be the key to saving coral reefs and marine life on other parts of the island.