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 Research Projects 2020-2022

Land-based pollutants on Hawaiian reefs

Graduate Fellow: Honour Booth

A school of fish swim over a reef
Manini, or convict tang, graze on algae on rocks and reefs in Oʻahu. (Photo: NOAA Fisheries)

This research will examine land-based pollutants, such as metals and persistent organic pollutants (e.g., PCBs), in coastal ecosystems in Hawaiʻi. Ongoing habitat degradation and coastal development, along with historic impacts from agriculture and the military can leave a legacy of contamination on land and in the ocean. Our project will focus on three locations where we will be working closely with community representatives to better understand how pollutants are distributed and transported through the ecosystem. Specifically, we will be working in the Hāʻena CBSFA to examine reefs adjacent to a heavily trafficked coastal road. We will also be collaborating with government and nonprofit agencies in Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor) to better understand how military, agriculture, and residential development in the surrounding watershed may be affecting pollutant concentrations in habitat that is important for fisheries, recreation, and endangered birds. We will also be working with the stewards of Kahoʻolawe to determine how remaining unexploded ordnances and historic military activity have affected pollutant concentrations in the nearshore marine environment. This work will benefit our community collaborators directly by providing information to assist with future management decisions, but it will also benefit communities in Hawaiʻi and globally by contributing to our collective understanding of the ways in which improper land use and habitat degradation can have lasting negative effects on coastal ecosystems.

Visit a story map created by the Puʻuloa Strategic Partnership group, an associated multisector consortium of collaborators that coordinate work on restoring the Pearl Harbor area, like this project.