VIDEO: Volunteers Help Coral Bleaching Research at First Bleachapalooza Event
More than two dozen people gathered at Kahekili Beach Park on Maui over the weekend for the statewide “Bleachapalooza” event, organized to bring attention to the damaging effects of coral bleaching in the islands.
State authorities describe coral bleaching as “a stress response caused by high ocean temperatures that makes corals appear white and can ultimately lead to their death.”
The statewide Bleachapalooza event is the brainchild of Maui community organizer Liz Foote and state Division of Aquatics Resources special projects coordinator Darla White.
The event was prompted by Hawaii’s unprecedented coral bleaching event this fall.
After last year’s bleaching event state officials said many corals did show signs of recovery, but with predictions of continued annual bleaching, the impacts on reef ecosystems around the world continues to be of great concern to scientists and environmental policy makers.
Training included a tutorial on coral biology and concluded with instructions on how to fill out reporting forms. White said, “The more trained volunteers we have in the ocean, regularly documenting coral bleaching, will help aquatic biologists create a fuller data set to further develop action plans to track and address bleaching events.
“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,” said Foote in a state press release.
Organizers were hopeful that the event would attract new volunteers who could be trained in documenting and reporting coral bleaching within local reefs to the Eyes of the Reef Network.
Organizers say high surf and brown water over the weekend prevented the group from getting in the water to test their newly acquired skills.
Volunteers submit their observation reports through an on-line system. As of mid-afternoon on Saturday, 15 new reports of bleaching had been received.
Additional training sessions are held around the state on a regular basis.