Where has all the Limu Gone?

Where has all the Limu Gone? Maui used to have an abundant resource of edible and useful seaweed. It was harvested, eaten, and utilized as part of the traditional Hawaiian culture and in more modern times. Throughout history Maui beaches and shorelines were synonymous with seaweed. In the modern era there had been so much seaweed and algae (including both native and non-native varieties) that huge rafts of seaweed would wash ashore on many beaches building up daily. Many people picked up the fresh limu daily, for food and for other uses. If left exposed on the beach, the seaweed would start rotting and could get quite stinky. This “stinky seaweed” problem was even the cause of many complaints, to the point where some resorts had even dedicated large beach-cleaning machines to clear away the almost daily deposits of seaweed. Huge seaweed deposits were common sites on, the north shore, south shore, and west side. But in the last 2 decades, most of that has suddenly disappeared? So why after so many decades of excessive seaweed did it suddenly vanish on all three coastlines?

beachmaster-machine-clearing-limu-seaweed-in kihei-maui-hawaii
Beachmaster tractor clearing away seaweed deposits on a Kihei Beach, Maui Hawaii.

Coral reefs provide protection from storms and rising sea levels, Stanford research finds

Coral reefs provide protection from storms and rising sea levels, Stanford research finds

Coral reefs provide protection from storms and rising sea levels, Stanford research finds

By breaking up waves, coral reefs protect an estimated 200 million people from natural disasters and rising sea levels.

Source: news.stanford.edu/news/2014/may/coral-reef-protect-051314.html

Coral Reef Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Upland Activities

Coral Reef Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Upland Activities

The health of beaches is closely tied to the health of the coral reef ecosystem, which is itself closely tied to upland land practices. Hence, effective beach management requires a geographically broader approach
known as integrated coastal zone management. Although this report has focused mainly on the shoreline area-the beach, the dunes, and the coastal plain-we have included some recommendations for more effective protection of the coral reef ecosystem and better management of upland land practices.In many cases, improper control of runoff at agricultural lands and construction sites, even those far from the coast, has degraded the water quality of coastal areas. For example, recent construction without adequate erosion control measures for the Maui Ocean Center has led to frequent silt plumes in Ma’alaea Bay and negative impacts on the coral reef. Silt diminishes light penetration and eventually settles out on
the seafloor. This harms coral and other marine organisms (e.g.,
foraminifera, an important component of beach sand) and limits safe and enjoyable ocean recreation. Runoff also transports nutrients, pesticides,
and other pollutants to coastal waters compounding the impacts on water quality. [excerpt from the “Beach Management Plan for Maui”]