Sunday, July 27, 2014         

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New websites focus on health of coral around Hawaii island

By Star-Advertiser staff


Two recently launched websites are promising to provide visitors unprecedented perspectives on the health of coral reefs around Hawaii island.

The sites — the Coral Health Atlas and Long-term Monitoring of Coral Health at Waiopae Hawaii Island — draw on information gathered over some seven years by UH-Hilo associate professor of marine science Misaki Takabayashi and a team of student researchers.

The Coral Health Atlas (coralhealth.spatial.hawaii.edu) offers basic information about coral health and diseases as well as data on the prevalence of coral disease at several sites around the island.

The Waiopae site (goo.gl/YoQPz) features time-series photographs that track changes in 48 coral colonies at Waiopae tide pools in Puna. The colonies were observed every month for the last five years.

Takabayashi’s research team included doctoral student John Burns, master’s students Makani Gregg and Monika Frazier, and undergraduates Niegel Rozet, Eva Farah, Lauren Kapono and Danielle Claar.

The scientists note that coral health is fundamental to Hawaii’s ocean life and has “direct cultural, environmental and economic significance.” 

The two websites are intended to help Hawaii residents understand the importance of a healthy coral community and the state of its health at various reefs.

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