The Trouble with our Ocean - Runoff

Reefsavior at Reefsavior at
Thu Nov 30 16:43:43 EST 2000

With respect to the sudden appearance of algae in the waters adjacent to 
coral reefs: I just returned from the Big Island of Hawaii.  When I arrived 
on Nov. 5 there was an extraordinary bloom of stringy, suspended 
greenish-brown algae all down the Kona coast extending at least a mile out to 
sea.  Local divers said they had never seen such conditions.  Apart from the 
macroalgae, the water was fairly clear but occasionally seemed to have high 
concentrations of plankton at certain times of day.  Shortly before my 
arrival, record rainfall caused heavy flooding in Hilo, washed out roads and 
produced unusual amounts of runoff on the Kona coast, especially where new 
construction is occurring.  Has anyone seen such a bloom here before?  Could 
it be due to the introduction of a large amount of terrigenous nutrients 
washed into the ocean from the intense rains?
One of the possible side effects of this phenomenon was the appearance of a 
whale shark south of Kailua-Kona a mile or two out to sea.  I was able to 
swim with it and capture some video-tape, a rare pleasure which even some 
locals have never had.
Stosh Thompson
Tropical Marine Biodiversity Trust
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
sponsors coral-list and the Coral Health and Monitoring Program
(CHAMP,  Please visit the Web site
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