Hawaii & Alaska
Big Island Now

HI - Coral Spawning Observed After Popular Beaches Closed

New life is developing in West Hawai´i waters.

New life is developing in West Hawai´i waters.

The DLNR Division of State Parks and Hawai´i County have announced the closures of parking lots to multiple popular beach areas over the coming week to aid the natural process of coral spawning in the accompanying bays. Information specialists have also been at those sites to discourage people from entering the water at specific times.

On Friday, May 28, Project Director for Kahalu`u Bay Education Center and Outreach Coordinator at The Kohala Center Cindi Punihaole said she has already seen evidence of the effort’s success.

“Coral spawning (was) observed yesterday at Kahalu´u and Waialea. (I’m) thankful that (the) county and state allowed park closures,” Punihaole said. “This week is a very sensitive time for cauliflower corals. Community and visitors are (being) very respectful, too.”

Waialea Bay was closed for half-days on Friday and Saturday, while Kahalu´u Bay was closed down Friday and will remain so until June 5.

Shortly after dawn on both Friday and Saturday, a trio of aquatic biologists with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) carefully watched coral colonies at Waialea Bay at Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area (SRA).

Once a year, with spring tides and the full moon, corals spawn and send millions of tiny gametes into the water column. However, the annual cycle can be broken.

“A lot of factors come into play,” said DAR Fish and Habitat Monitoring Planner Lindsey Kramer. “Water temperature and salinity are important. Rain events can cause the colonies to wait until the next lunar cycle. The moon cycles are the primary drivers of these spawning events of cauliflower corals.”  

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