By Leland Kim
HANAUMA BAY (KHNL) -- From the overlook Hanauma Bay's water looks clear and pristine, but what's happening below the surface.
Is the marine life as plentiful as before? Is the water quality good and good enough to sustain a thriving eco-system?
A retired university of Hawaii professor asked those very questions. Dr. Richard Brock recently completed his findings, and says there's encouraging news about what's happening at Hanauma Bay.
It's a postcard come to life. Hanauma Bay and its blue waters attract millions of visitors each year, but things weren't always this nice.
"In the early days many years ago, it was pretty much a wide open door here and there was numerous visitors, high numbers of visitors which did degrade some of the inner reef areas here," said Dr. Richard Brock, an environmental expert.
Dr. Brock is an environmental scientist who recently completed a comprehensive study of the bay.
"When there's too many people walking on a given piece of reef surface, it'll create change," he said.
Change that kills off corals. That's why those responsible for the bay took specific steps to help heal it.
Those efforts including limiting the number of annual visitors from three million to one million. Otherwise, this beach would be three times as crowded as it is right now.
"If you take away all human walking pressure if you will, the community responds in a way, which isn't unusual, but it responds in one direction, usually there's a greater diversity of species," said Dr. Brock.
That's exactly what happened at Hanauma Bay. Limiting the number of visitors and educating them about taking care of our environment, have had a profound impact.
"What people learn about the proper etiquette along the reef, they take to other areas as well," said Alan Hong, a manager at Hanauma Bay. "So, it spans way beyond Hanauma Bay to anywhere we have reefs that border our shoreline."
"And the same idea could be applied anywhere in the state or any tropical area for that matter in just about any place," said Dr. Brock.