The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Researchers Use Technology and Nature to Save Hawaii’s Coral Reefs From Invasive Algae
Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the state of Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) have developed an innovative method of removing invasive macroalgae that can smother coral reefs, the University of Hawaii reported Aug. 9.
A combination of removing macroalgae with an underwater "Super Sucker" vacuum and introducing juvenile sea urchins to feed on the remaining algae reduced the amount of algae on a reef off of Oahu, Hawaii by 85 percent, the researchers found.
"This management approach is the first of its kind at the reef-scale," study author and University of Hawaii Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) doctoral candidate Chris Wall said in the university press release. "Our research shows promise as an effective means to reduce invasive macroalgae with minimal environmental impact, while also incorporating a native herbivore to regulate a noxious invasive species."
The combined approach removed more than 40,000 pounds of invasive algae, "outplanted" 99,000 native collector sea urchins and freed almost six acres of reef over a two year period, according to The University of Hawaii.
"The surprise was just how effective this approach was at reducing invasive macroalgae over the two-year period," Wall said.
Few large-scale attempts to remove the algae, which limits biodiversity on the reef by smothering coral, monopolizing the ecosystem and competing with native species, had proven successful in the past, according to the abstract of the study published Aug. 8 in the journal PeerJ.
The Super Sucker consists of a long hose attached to a pump system housed on a nearby barge. Divers feed the algae into the hose, which sucks it up to the barge where it can be sorted, bagged and delivered to farmers.
A diver uses the Super Sucker to remove algae in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. MeganCookDAR
Macroalgae is rich in nutrients and is used on plants like taro and sweet potato. It is also high in potassium and thought to be an effective insect repellent.
The successful removal of the reef-smothering algae means Hawaii's coral reefs have one less thing to worry about, given the risk posed to coral worldwide due to climate change related problems like ocean acidification and coral bleaching.
"Coral reefs are an important part of the economy, culture, sustenance and recreation of Hawaii," study author and DAR acting administrator Brian J. Neilson told the University of Hawaii. "Local action is instrumental in supporting the resilience of coral reefs. This study provides an important tool that can assist in the management and conservation of coral reefs."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.