Posted on: October 16, 2013

Making Waves Lecture Series: "Operation: Olowalu Reef"

The reefs located at Olowalu are considered the most diverse of all of Maui’s coral reef ecosystems. Dr. Eric Brown once described the Olowalu reef as “the best leeward reef in Maui and probably the whole state.” 
 
With development plans underway for a community of 1,500 homes, plus shops, restaurants and more in Olowalu, what is being done to protect the beautiful and fragile reefs off shore?
 
Pacific Whale Foundation's Making Waves Lecture Series takes up this question, with an evening of presentations devoted to “Operation: Olowalu Reef.”  This event takes place on Thursday, October 24, from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at Pacific Whale Foundation’s Discovery Center, located at the ocean level of the Harbor Shops at Ma’alaea. It is free and open to all. 
 
The evening will include a presentation by Sarah McClane, Executive Director of Maui Nui Resource Council, on the Maui Coral Reef Recovery Plan. The plan, titled "Ola na Papa i Malama'ia: A Practical Plan for the Technical and Cultural Restoration of Maui's Coral Reefs,” addresses documented decreases in both coral cover and reef fish populations on Maui. It addresses the major causes (i.e., land-based sources of pollution, overfishing, deteriorating water quality, invasive algae, and climate change) of this decline. 
 
The evening will also include a talk by John Fitzpatrick of the University of Hawaii about his research utilizing citizen science and Go Pro cameras to evaluate coral reef health at Olowalu. “Fitz” has a masters degree in zoology from the University of Hawai'i. His thesis work involved the population genetics of the red lip parrotfish (Scarus rubroviolaceus). He currently teaches Human Biology at University of Hawaii Maui. 
 
“Out of all the reef systems on Maui, only three areas contain extensive aggregate coral reef (Spreckelsville, Kihei and Olowalu),” says Lauren Campbell, Conservation Manager at Pacific Whale Foundation. “An aggregate coral reef is not the typical coral colony seen growing on lava, but is instead thick reef structure. One lobe coral colony on the reef at Olowalu is so large that scientists estimate it to be about 500 years old.”
 
“Olowalu is also home to several species of rare corals, and has the highest diversity of Porites species and growth forms in the entire island chain,” she notes. “The proposed Olowalu Town development threatens to significantly alter this entire area.”
 
“We are excited to host these two presentations, which include information on the role of citizens as scientists and eyes and ears on behalf of the Olowalu reef,” says Campbell. “If you love this reef and the vast array of wildlife that live among these corals, please attend this presentation.”
 
For information about the presentation, please visit www.pacificwhale.org or call (808) 249-8811 ext. 1.