MALA MOANA (Ocean Garden)

KBA support for MALA MOANA (Ocean Garden)  by Katherine Muzik. Ph. D.

Final Mala Moana Map

GOALS: “Mala Moana” is an exciting project for restoration of a disturbed coral reef area located off Kapa’a town, Kaua’i. Long-term goals of the project include reef rehabilitation, reef protection through environmental education, and the creation of employment opportunities in marine studies for local youth of Kauaʻi, here on Kauaʻi, for Kauaʻi.


JUSTIFICATION: Coral reefs are dying worldwide owing to numerous threats, such as soil erosion, nutrients from sewage and agriculture, pesticides, dredging, land-fill, rising ocean temperatures and acidity, marine debris and diseases. Kauaʻi reefs are no exception. Our positive rehabilitation effort will help teach both the local community and tourists about the importance and beauty of coral reefs and their dependent fish and invertebrates, while enlightening them about the ominous threats to their survival. At the Mala Moana site, easily accessible from the Kapa’a bike path, islanders and visitors alike can learn through personal observation, and become inspired to work together to help clean and restore our waters.


LOCATION AND IMPLEMENTATION: A near-shore area (the deep and sandy “Dredge”) north of the Kapaʻa Public Library and the Moikeha Canal, was quarried in 1959 by Lihue Plantation Company, to provide coral reef “rock” to fill swamps and build roads. The ocean area beyond the Dredge is especially appropriate for a coral transplant project because it features coral-appropriate substrate with cleansing ocean currents, and is easily accessible by snorkelling from shore. This location assures both convenient scientific studies and “on-site” educational visits from the public. To rehabilite this area, “Corals of Opportunity”, which are broken but still-living fragments of several species of coral (Pocillopora [Cauliflower Coral], Montipora [Rice Coral], Porites [Lobe and Finger Coral] and Pavona [Porkchop Coral]) encountered nearby will be transported and re-attached to the reef. Transplants will be monitored for growth, disease or breakage, and for changes in fish abundance and diversity. Variations in temperature and salinity will be recorded, and contamination by pollutants (Enterococcus fecal bacteria, glyphosates) measured. Shore and underwater activities will be documented with photography for publication in local newspapers and the Internet, for an educational brochure and video for tourists and residents, and for presentations to Kaua’i County schools, civic groups, retirement centers and any interested others. This field research shall be a much-needed collaboration among scientists, students, local fishermen, cultural practitioners and recreational users, all sharing knowledge and experience to help create a rehabilitated coral and fish community. Director Katherine Muzik (Ph.D., Hawaiian corals; Associate in Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum; Research Associate, National Tropical Botanical Garden) has 45 yrs of coral research experience worldwide, including participation in coral transplant projects in Okinawa. Deeply devoted to environmental education, she hopes “Mala Moana” will encourage numerous local divers, teachers, students, of course visitors, and most important, children to learn about and care about life in our sea.

If you would like to learn more contact Katie at  –