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East Meets West on Coral Reefs

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Bob Halley (St. Petersburg) and Mike Field (Menlo Park) spent a week in Hawaii planning an expanded coral reef effort for the Coastal and Marine Program, meeting with potential cooperators and clients and scouting possible study sites. They were joined by Pat Chavez (Flagstaff) and Bruce Richmond (Menlo Park) for discussions with Bill Steiner (BRD) and Gordon Tribble (WRD) in Honolulu. They also met with Professors Steven Smith, Bob Kinzie, Jim Maragos, and Chip Fletcher at the University of Hawaii.

There were universal positive responses to our visit with numerous possibilities to develop collaboration and/or cooperation among geologists, hydrologists, and biologists regarding coral-reef issues. Probable study sites on Oahu included Kailua and Kaneoe Bays, where small reefs occur in partially enclosed embayments.

Gordon Tribble acted as local guide for the mainland group to Molokai, where three days of surveys were conducted along the south shore, which features a 32-mile long barrier reef along the entire length of the island.

This reef appears generally to be in great condition, but sediments are impacting several miles of the reef flat near the village of Kaunakakai. In this area, severe erosion, apparently a result of land clearing, is transporting red island sediment across the reef flat and producing a plume of turbidity. This region may provide a natural laboratory for assessing historic changes in watersheds and resultant impacts on coastal reef systems.

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