CRAMP Study Sites: Island of Moloka‘i
Geographic Name: Pālā‘au
CRAMP site code: MoPal
Geographic Location: South coast of Moloka‘i (21° 05'N, 157° 06' W).
Chart showing Pālā‘au coastline. Red arrows show location of transect sites. (Click image for larger view.)
1993 NOAA aerial photo of the Pālā‘au area. Image provided by Steve Rohmann. (Click image for larger view.)
Extensive mangrove area occupies the shoreline which has been advancing seaward for the past century due to high sediment loading.
The general structure of the reef consists of an extremely broad reef flat and reef face bisected by Pālā‘au Channel. The reef flat near the inner channel and near the Fishing House is fully exposed at minus low tides. Sand and fine sediments cover most of the reef flat with no live coral. Moving seaward through the Pālā‘au Channel area takes one through a transition zone where small colonies of coral are found. There is a question as to whether these corals are remnants of a once-thriving area of healthy reef or if these corals will continue to decline with the progradation of the shoreline. If the mangroves have stabilized the mud flats, these corals may represent the beginnings of recovery in the area. As one moves seaward across the reef flat, crest and reef slope, more and more live healthy corals can be found. In the outer portion of the Pālā‘au Channel we find a healthy, diverse reef.
View of agricultural land upslope of Pālā‘au. Turbid sediment plume over Pālā‘au reef can be seen in the distance. Photo by Paul Jokiel.
Human Use Patterns:
Use of the Pālā‘au area is largely focused on subsistence fishing.
Status (Degree of Legal Protection):
Open access, no special protection. Authority for managing the marine resources within three miles (4.8 km) of the high tide mark lies with the Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources. All laws pertaining to the management of state marine resources apply (see pamphlet "Hawai‘i Fishing regulations, September 1999", 51 pp. available from Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kalanimoku Building, 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm. 330, Honolulu, Hawai‘i).
Over the past century the management concern at Pālā‘au is severe sedimentation due to accelerated land erosion.
Noteworthy Flora and Fauna:
The Inshore area is quite divers. In the area of the CRAMP survey site one encounters two very rare corals: Gardenoseris planulata and Montipora studeri. The offshore site has extremely high coral cover.
Scientific Importance and Research Potential:
This site was chosen as one of the Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (CRAMP) sites for the project. Biological transects are laid out at 3m and 10m depths, and an additional CRAMP photoquadrat area is on the reef flat in 1 m of water. CRAMP baseline data was collected in February 2000. The location will is being revisited annually to detect change. Sediment traps have been deployed in the area. The focal points of scientific investigations at this location center on impact of sedimentation (increasing damage or recovery) and the importance of wave energy in structuring the coral reef communities. The inshore mangrove area is the subject of ongoing studies.
Last Update: 02/24/2011
By: Dan Lager
Hawai‘i Coral Reef Assessment & Monitoring Program
Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology
P.O. Box 1346
Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744