Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Hawaii
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Hawaii Project

Water Quality Thresholds to Improve Coral Restoration Outcomes and Ridge-to-Reef Management at Olowalu Reef, Maui

June 2023 - January 2026


Participating Agencies

  • University of Hawaii Sea Grant
  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Successful reef restoration requires detailed, site-specific information on the tolerances of local reef builders to prevailing environmental threats. Across Hawai‘i – and especially in southwest Maui – sedimentation is a major threat to coral-reef health. Proposed and ongoing watershed management projects focus on erosion reduction, but lack thresholds for sediment pollution and specific, measurable targets for upland sediment reduction. To address this need, the project PIs will work with local organizations and agencies to develop place- and species-specific thresholds of sediment stress to inform both makai (coral outplanting) and mauka (land-management) restoration efforts at Olowalu Reef, a critically important site in the region that is poised to receive millions of dollars for restoration and infrastructure improvements. The PIs and their partners are co-developing the project, the results of which will directly contribute to reef conservation and restoration success. Specifically, the proposed work will produce a map of the predicted success of coral restoration outplants across a sedimentation gradient at Olowalu and generate detailed sediment thresholds for local reef builders that can serve as targets for sediment reduction efforts. Importantly, the proposed approach can be replicated in other locations where establishing water quality targets for coral restoration is a critical management need.

Presentations Presentation Date
Tuttle Raz, L. J., M. J. Donahue, and K. Falinski. 2023. Sediment Thresholds to Improve Coral Restoration Outcomes at Olowalu Reef. 3rd Hawai'i Coral Restoration Symposium, Honolulu HI, January 2024. January 2024
McSwain, D., L. J. Tuttle Raz, C. Moreland-Ochoa, M. J. Donahue, J. Schem, and K. Falinski. 2024. Water quality targets to inform coral restoration and land management at Olowalu Reef in southwest Maui. Hawaii Conservation Conference, Honolulu HI, 30 July - 1 August 2024. July 2024