Coral Reef Project: Lānaʻi

Science Center Objects

Little is actually known about the overall extent, biodiversity, morphology, or health of Lānaʻi’s reef tracks. As part of the USGS Coral Reef Project, the USGS collected high-resolution swath bathymetry data and underwater video and photography in early 2013 in order to develop high-resolution seafloor habitat and reef morphology maps of the coral reef systems off of eastern Lānaʻi.

Aerial view of an island with green peaks, red soil, some landmarks visible, and small, puffy clouds floating above it all.

US Geological Survey and NASA satellite image of the Hawaiian island of Lānaʻi, from LANDSAT 8 and ASTER satellite imagery.

Overview

Lānaʻi is located 15 km (9 mi) south of Molokaʻi and 15 km southwest of Maui. Also known as the Pineapple Isle, it encompasses 363 sq km (140 sq mi), making it the sixth largest in the Hawaiian Islands chain. While a fringing reef surrounds the island, much of the live coral growth can only be found on the north and east coasts where the reef is protected from waves by the surrounding islands. Reef growth is limited on the south and west coasts due to wave impacts from summer south swell. 

Numerous, high coral-cover reef tracts are known to exist off the island of Lānaʻi and are a popular destination for scuba divers. NOAA mapped one of the most extensive reef tracts off the eastern side of the island, but little is actually known about its overall extent, biodiversity, morphology, or health. The USGS collected high-resolution swath bathymetry data and underwater video and photography in early 2013 in order to develop high-resolution seafloor habitat and reef morphology maps of the coral reef systems off of eastern Lānaʻi.