Ocean Blog

Sen. Hirono Emphasizes Importance of Coral Reef Research

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Coconut Island is a private research island offering world-class lab, field, and genetic facilities for faculty, students, and visiting students and convenient access to a diverse range of marine environments. The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology is located on the island. PC: UH


US Sen. Mazie K. Hirono emphasized the importance of coral reef research during a visit to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology’s facility on Coconut Island,a state-owned island in Kāne’ohe Bay, O‘ahu.

Senator Hirono and Gates Lab’s Kira Hughes view coral research samples. Courtesy photo

During her visit, Sen. Hirono met with scientists studying coral restoration, assisted coral evolution, and threats to coral reef ecosystem—including climate change.


“The unique ocean conditions in Kaneohe Bay make it an ideal location to study how different species of coral might respond to the growing threat of climate change,” Sen. Hirono said. “Through the work of so many scientists and researchers at Coconut Island, Hawai‘i continues to lead a national effort in coral research, and I will continue advocating for essential research programs to receive the federal funding they deserve.”

During her visit, Sen. Hirono also met with Hawai‘i public school teachers participating in a Maker Lab workshop. Supported by federal funding Sen. Hirono worked to secure, the Maker Lab program provides teachers hands-on and authentic science learning programs that help them build more engaging science curriculum in their own classrooms.

Senator Hirono speaks with a teacher participating in the Maker Lab program. Courtesy photo

Sen. Hirono is a longtime advocate for programs supporting coral reef research. Last month, Sen. Hirono joined Rep. Ed Case in reintroducing the Coral Reef Sustainability Through Innovation Act.


This legislation directs federal agencies to use existing funding to establish a competitive prize competition focused on coral health. Sen. Hirono has introduced this legislation each Congress beginning in 2016, when she first partnered with former Congressman Mark Takai in the effort.

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