Features | The Green Leaf CORAL signs remind us all to help preserve our reefs By Nina Wu Nov. 26, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Sometimes making a difference is as simple as a sign. A sign that informs, educates and illustrates how visitors and locals alike can respect the coral reef. One that explains that corals are living animals that eat, grow and reproduce. One that explains how a swimmer, snorkeler or diver can easily damage living coral with a touch or kick or by stepping on it. It identifies, with photos, the endemic Hawaiian damselfish and fragile finger corals, and advises the public not to feed the fish and to give turtles and other marine life plenty of room. "We wanted to provide a nice, ecological overview as well as the do’s and don’ts of reef etiquette," said Liz Foote, Hawaii field manager for the Coral Reef Alliance, or CORAL. "We also wanted to frame it in a positive way and to say, ‘Here’s the behavior you should engage in and why, and here’s how you can protect this habitat for future generations.’" The reef etiquette signs are a joint project of CORAL, the state Division of Aquatic Resources, Maui Land & Pineapple Co. and Project SEA-Link. CORAL, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco, has a mission of uniting communities worldwide to save coral reefs. Along with its Hawaii action team, it does work in Indonesia, the Caribbean, Honduras and Mexico. The seeds for the sign project sprouted from a "Respecting Coral Reefs" campaign five years ago. The first sign was planted at Honolua Bay on Maui in early 2008 during the International Year of the Reef. Since then, plenty of other signs have been installed, including CORAL’s 49th and 50th signs at Shark’s Cove and Three Tables on the North Shore — the first signs to be installed on Oahu. Though she has no scientific measurement of the effectiveness of the signs, Foote says she hopes they make a difference and that more will be installed on Oahu. Anecdotal feedback has been positive so far. Denise Antolini of Malama Pupukea Waimea says the signs are making a difference. "They are visible, informative and attractive reminders of how special this place is to everyone and why it needs kokua from the community and all of our partners," Antolini said in a written comment. Most of the signs are installed on Maui — from Kapalua Bay to Lahaina Harbor and Wailea Beach. Many resorts, including the Sheraton Maui Resort, Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort and Ritz Carlton Kapalua, sponsored the signs. There are also signs at Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii island and Honoiki Beach on Kauai. CORAL’s other projects include working with Hawaii hotels on coral reef stewardship by educating staff and guests on the best way to care for our reefs. The group is also working with more than 30 companies on marine tourism standards and best practices in West Hawaii that it hopes to bring to the other islands as well. Hawaii hotels, dive shops and other businesses are invited to "adopt" reef etiquette signs by funding their purchase and installation at a particular location. The signs will include the sponsors’ names and logos. The cost of a single sign is about $1,739 — less if you sponsor multiple signs. To learn more, visit www.coral.org. If you’re interested in adopting a sign, contact Liz Foote on Maui at 669-9062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Nina Wu writes about environmental issues. Reach her at 529-4892 or email@example.com. Previous Story Catch 'Thieves' at Ward and Pearlridge theaters Next Story Display will honor children 'in heaven'