DLNR Press Release: CREASE CLOSES ACCESS TO PARKING AT WAIALEA BAY MARINE LIFE CONSERVATION DISTRICT
Posted on May 13, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(KAILUA-KONA) – It’s a rite of spring in coastal waters off the island of Hawaii and throughout the Hawaiian archipelago, and a time to let coral colonies rest during their short spawning windows.
The Waialea Bay Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) parking lot will be closed the mornings of May 17, 18, and 19 to allow for spawning and the production of new keiki offspring.
Known on the Big Island as “Beach 69”, the 35-acre Waialea Bay is one of eleven MLCDs in Hawai’i. These districts are revered around the world as marine protected areas to help perpetuate their rich abundance of aquatic life, starting with coral reefs as a foundation. MLCDs benefit from the highest levels of protection.
DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP) staff assist DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) biologists and technicians in instructing visitors to stay out of the water during these temporary rest periods, that allow corals to reproduce and then re-establish themselves. down.
DAR Senior Coral Monitoring Technician Nathan Hayes said: “Our reefs have been damaged over the past few years and as corals are slow growing animals, recovery takes time. One of the best ways everyone can help is to be aware of our land and ocean activities during coral spawning times. Only a small percentage of the gametes from these spawning events survive to start new coral colonies. We want to give them every chance to grow into their next phase of deep sea life and start recruiting more corals.
This is the second annual closure of access to the spawning grounds at the Waialea Bay MLCD. Kahalu’u Bay has seen similar closures for the past two years and will be closed again for spawning this year May 16-21.
Christopher Teague, an aquatic biologist with the DAR, explained: “The absence of swimmers and snorkelers in the water during coral spawning will limit stressors such as sunscreens, personal care products and other chemical products. Corals are easily disturbed by people in the water during these critical morning windows and research has shown that chemicals on our skin and even in our bodies can interact with and impact fragile coral larvae. Corals appear during specific moon and tidal cycles in spring.
DAR Administrator Brian Neilson added: “We want to give the corals every possible chance to reproduce. Cauliflower corals were particularly hard hit in 2015 and 2019 when high ocean temperatures led to massive bleaching events. On top of all the other environmental stressors our reefs are currently facing, we really encourage ocean users to put up with some inconvenience during spawning.
Access to the Waialea Bay MLCD car park will reopen at noon next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Biologists hope people will delay ocean activities at the MLCD for at least another day. It can take up to 24 hours for corals to reproduce successfully and up to a week or more for new larvae to re-settle on the reefs.
# # #
(All images/video courtesy of DLNR)
HD video – Waialea Bay MLCD coral spawning (May 28, 2021):
Photographs – Waialea Bay MLCD coral spawning (May 28, 2021):
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources