Why Hawaiian coral reefs are our cause of the month


Hawaiian coral reef conservation

Hawaiian coral reef conservation

The rainforest of the sea

The Hawaiian coral reef stretches over 1,200 miles into the Central Pacific and accounts for at least 80% of all coral reefs in the United States. Often called the “rainforest of the sea,” the Hawaiian reef supports incredible biodiversity and provides food, shelter, and habitat for more than 7,000 marine species. Over 25% of these species are endemic to Hawai'i, which means there are more than 1,250 unique species living here that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

The Hawaiian reef system also feeds entire communities that rely on the ocean for sustenance. It acts as a natural breakwater that protects shoreline communities and coastal cities from wave and sand erosion caused by storms. It’s also what creates Hawai'i’s famous white sand beaches and iconic surf. Tourism, recreation, and other ocean industries that rely on the reef generate millions of jobs and billions of dollars for Hawai'i’s economy.

Human activities like ghost nets are the biggest threat to Hawai'i’s coral

Human activities are the biggest threat to Hawai'i’s coral

Despite the importance of Hawai'i’s reefs, human activity is the biggest threat to their survival. While all coral reefs are impacted by the growing threat of climate change, reefs near the Main Hawaiian Islands are also plagued by marine debris, urbanization, overfishing, invasive species, and recreational overuse. The uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are mostly impacted by marine debris and overfishing associated with commercial fishing and other maritime industries.


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