What Is Happening in Hanalei Bay?
By Terry Lilley, Marine Biologist
Hi Ocean Lovers,
There was once a beautiful bay called Hanalei! Crystal clear water, beautiful fish dancing around their home of healthy coral and sea turtles gliding effortlessly between the waves looking for a meal of limu. Beautiful waves breaking at the bowl where the water was so clear surfers often thought they would run into the corals when they tucked into a big tube.
This was the view I had of Hanalei Bay when I first surfed it in 1975 and when I started my underwater video series of the Bay in 2002. Since then I have surfed the bay hundreds of times and have done over 300 scuba dives, day and night, taking HD video of the marine life, corals , sharks and honu. My new video coming out called “Near Shore Hawaiian Fish” will feature some of this pristine underwater video of Hanalei back in 2005. As a marine biologist I not only like to surf and dive, but I like to help protect the animals I call my friends and Ohana that live below the waves.
Today, the Bay is filled with thick mud on the bottom which has killed almost all of the shallow water corals in the last two years! The reef is littered with broken coral, tires, boat trailers and other junk. The water by the pier has been clear over the past few days for the first time in one year! There has been so much mud at the pier that kids jumping off the pier have hit the bottom and got seriously hurt because they could not see the bottom. At the bowl the mud is over four feet thick on the bottom and this mud has built up over the past year, and was not cleaned out by last winters large surf. I have had dozens of tourist ask me why the water in Hanalei is brown as it used to be a beautiful blue-green and clear? I have been asked many times why does the water stink in Hanalei Bay?