Invasive algae in Maui gets sucked up

KIHEI, Maui (KHNL) - An "Invasive Algae Removal Feasibility Study" Thursday, joined together volunteers in Maui in an effort to suck up an invasive species of algae on Waipuilani Beach.

Using a six-inch diameter pump dubbed the "Super Sucker" volunteers from Maui County, the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii's Botany Department went to work in an attempt to rid the beach of the red string like algae known as Hypnea musiformis.

At the beach park the "Super Sucker" went to work sucking up the invasive species. Its powerful pump is capable of sucking up to 300-400 gallons of seawater per minute.

Representatives say the study should help them determine whether or not the "Super Sucker" is a viable tool for removing the invasive algae without displacing valuable sand and coral.

"Examining all of our options is an important step in dealing with this long standing issue," said Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

In the area another clean up effort sponsored by the Maui Sunset Condo Association gathers the Hypnea and piles it on the beach letting it decompose. Once it has decomposed they then spread it back out. But some researchers suggest that land based chemicals in the seaweed once back in the water just cause the Hypnea to thrive.

"If we can take the algae off the beach, we break the cycle," said Brian Parscal of the UH Botany Department.

In two or three weeks researchers may be able to determine whether a $600,000 dollar full scale operation using the "Super Sucker" would be feasible. The operation would take place over a period of two years.