Science Center Objects

As part of USGS Coral Reef Project studies, the USGS has been heavily involved in efforts to improve the health and resilience of Maui's coral reef system, bringing expertise in mapping, circulation and sediment studies, and seismic surveys.

Satellite view of island showing features like green mountains, brownish red soils, and bright, shallow, ocean waters.

Landsat image of Maui.

Overview

Maui is located 15 km (9 mi) east of Molokaʻi and 15 km northwest of Lānaʻi. Known as the Valley Isle, it encompasses 1883 sq km (727 sq mi), making it the second largest of the main eight Hawaiian Islands. A fringing reef surrounds much of the island. However much of the live coral growth can only be found on the leeward west coast where the reef is protected from waves by the surrounding islands. Reef growth is limited on the windward northeast coast due to wave impacts.

Motivation 

Over the past two decades, there has been a notable change in seafloor-bottom type along west-central Maui, Hawaiʻi. Once dominated by abundant coral coverage, the area is now characterized by an increased abundance of turf algae and macroalgae. In an effort to improve the health and resilience of the coral reef system, the State of Hawaiʻi established the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area. In addition, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) Watershed Partnership Initiative selected the Kaʻanapali region of west-central Maui as the site of the second national priority study area on which to focus its research and restoration efforts. The USGS has been involved heavily in these studies, bringing expertise in mapping, circulation and sediment studies, and seismic surveys. Other collaborators include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)NOAAUniversity of HawaiʻiUniversity of WashingtonUniversity of California, Santa Cruz, and The Nature Conservancy.