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Dozens Turn Out for Coral Reef Monitoring

October 4, 2015, 12:05 PM HST (Updated October 4, 2015, 12:05 PM)
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Bleachapalooza, a statewide event where trained volunteers get into the water and document and report coral bleaching to the Eyes of the Reef Network, took place on Saturday.

The event brought in dozens of volunteers across the state who helped to spot and report coral bleaching on local reefs.

On the Big Island, a group gathered at Kahalu’u Beach Park.

“The ocean is the lifeblood of Hawai’i and our coral reefs are the building blocks for the entirety of a healthy aquatic ecosystem,” said Department of Land Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case in September. “Virtually everyone in Hawai’i enjoys the ocean in some way and anything we can all do to help protect coral reefs will help protect our most vital natural resource for generations to come.”

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Liz Foote, the brainchild of Bleachapalozza and a community organizer, said that  “the Eyes of the Reef Network plays an integral part in the state’s coral bleaching responses by reaching out to and training ocean users to observe and report coral damage.

Corals bleaching is a result of stress caused by a rise in ocean temperature. When corals bleach they turn white, not necessarily dying, but becoming more susceptible to disease and other stresses which could lead to death.

While corals in the Hawaiian islands have shown signs of recovery compared to last year’s account, the prediction of continued annual bleaching, which ultimately leads to impacts of reef ecosystems around the world, is a concern to many scientists and policy makers.

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Volunteers at this year’s Bleachapalooza submitted their observations through an online system. On Saturday at noon, a total of 15 new reports had already been submitted.

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