Molokini has long been one of Maui’s most popular day trip destinations for snorkeling and diving. While tickets are affordable and there are dozens of boats that travel there every day, the amount of damage done by such a large number of boats and tourists is difficult to ignore. That being said, during the subsequent halt of tourist activities during the COVID-19 pandemic the underwater conditions around Molokini have rapidly improved.
A study that was recently conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii in the Molokini Reserve found that the larger fish and predators that are rarely seen in the area are starting to return. There are dozens of varieties of fish and dolphins as well as reef sharks that can be clearly observed. This was an encouraging sign of a healthy ecosystem to the researches, who are using this study as part of a wider initiative to show that if Hawaiian near-shore waters are given a chance to rebound they will do so more quickly than expected.
The main reason that the University of Hawaii is conducting widespread marine studies is to gather enough data to show lawmakers the power of effective management and how it can help put an end to the decline of our coral reefs. The researches believe that while some marine management areas can be found throughout the state, they are still too small to have any real impact on the depleted fisheries and unhealthy coral reefs.
In the case of Molokini Crater, when tourism picks up to the point it was pre-pandemic, those same fish that haven’t been seen in the area in years will once again be driven away. For Hawaii residents, it’s important to keep an eye on current research and what bills lawmakers are passing concerning ocean health so that you can do your part to keep marine habitats healthy. For more information about the University of Hawaii survey, click here.