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Study examines the impact of snorkelers on popular reef

Presentation will be Wednesday

The impact of snorkelers on a popular Hawaii reef will be the topic of a free presentation from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Sphere at Maui Ocean Center.

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is hosting this free talk that will share methodology and findings from a carrying capacity study of Oahu’s heavily visited Hanauma Bay by researchers from The Coral Reef Ecology Lab.

Doors open at 5. Seating is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve a space, visit bit.ly/snorkelers.

The featured guest presenters will be Sarah Jane Leicht Severino, research associate, and Ku’ulei Rodgers, Ph.D., principal investigator of The Coral Reef Ecology Lab at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology campus. They will speak about CREL’s Hanauma Bay Biological Carrying Capacity study, which quantifies the extent of human influence and determines the acceptable limits of disturbance to the marine resources of Hanauma Bay.

For the past year, CREL has performed observational and manipulative experimentation within the bay, documenting the interactions between visitors and the marine environment as they relate to human use, coral tramping, sedimentation and visual water clarity.

“The findings of the Hanauma Bay research should prove valuable in helping communities throughout Maui County evaluate the impacts of snorkelers at our popular reefs,” said Amy Hodges, MNMRC’s programs and operations manager. “This talk is an excellent opportunity to explore how Maui County might most effectively answer the question of how many snorkelers — and under what circumstances — are too many snorkelers at our local reefs?”