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Kahaluʻu Beach Park Slated to Close Next Month for Coral Spawning Event

April 24, 2022, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated April 20, 3:25 PM
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Kahaluʻu Beach Park will be closed for about a week in May to allow for coral spawning.

The park will be closed from May 16–21 for spawning events. According to the Division of Aquatic Resources and Eyes of the Reef Network, cauliflower coral was once abundant on shallow coral reefs along West Hawai’i, including Kahaluʻu Bay.

Experts attribute the decline of coral in West Hawai’i to environmental stressors and high ocean temperatures in 2015 and again at the end of 2019. This led to the bleaching and mortality of more than 90% of the cauliflower coral population in Kahaluʻu Bay.

Natural reproduction events are essential to recovering from the loss in the coral population. For more than a decade, researchers have observed annual broadcast spawning events for cauliflower corals and can now accurately predict when they will likely occur based on season, solar, tidal, and lunar cycles. During broadcast spawning events, corals emit reproductive cells into the water column, which the tides carry to mix and generate planktonic coral larvae.

“The high volume of daily visitors to Kahaluʻu Bay may cause harm to larval corals due to physical and chemical disturbances (e.g., sunscreens and other personal care items) in the bay’s surface waters,” county officials stated in a press release Wednesday. “In recent studies, oxybenzone chemicals in sunscreens were shown to cause damage to larval corals and prevent successful settlement on the reef.”

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Minimizing pollutants and physical disturbances within the spawning period in their natural environment will help ensure that corals can successfully reproduce and settle properly.

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For more information, call the Kahaluʻu Bay Education Center at 808-895-1010.

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