Beach 69 to Close for 2 Half Days for Coral Spawning
Half-day closures are scheduled at Waialea Bay Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) later this week to allow corals to spawn and produce new keiki.
The half-day closures at Waialea, known locally as Beach 69, will take place on May 28-29. The 35-acre bay is one of 11 MLCDs in Hawai‘i, which enjoys the highest level of protection for its invaluable marine resources.
Waialea Bay will reopen at noon this Friday and Saturday, but biologists are hoping people will delay their ocean activities for another day or so, as it can take up to 24-hours for corals to successfully reproduce and up to a week or more for new larvae to settle back onto the reef.
Beach 69’s closure comes on the heels of this month’s closures at Hawai‘i County’s Kahalu‘u Bay. During that spawning period, observers saw evidence of natural reproduction of cauliflower coral.
“The absence of swimmers and snorkelers in the water during spawning will help best ensure successful reproduction,” said Christopher Teague, an aquatic biologist with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).
DAR staff and personnel from the DLNR Division of State Parks will be at Waialea both mornings to answer questions and to help educate people about coral spawning.
Lower numbers of people in MLCDs, like Waialea, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and greater awareness about the impacts of sunscreens on aquatic life, have enhanced the growth and recovery of coral life in West Hawai‘i.
Corals spawn during specific moon cycles in the spring.
“We want to give corals every chance possible to reproduce,” said DAR Administrator Brian Neilson. “Cauliflower coral, in particular, were hammered in both 2015 and 2019 by elevated ocean temperatures, which led to mass bleaching events. This, along with all the other environmental stressors reef systems across the state currently face, makes it imperative that we all put up with a bit of inconvenience during spawning.”