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Aohe Limue - Alien Algae Cleanup Efforts in Waikiki

Next Alien Algae Cleanup: The next algae event is not yet scheduled. For further information, please contact Christy Martin (

Algal blooms on coral reefs are becoming increasingly common worldwide and can decimate coral reef ecosystems by overgrowing corals and decreasing biodiversity. In Hawaii, blooms of benthic (bottom-dwelling) algae are increasingly common due to the introduction and spread of several non-indigenous algal species.

These alien species are often unpalatable to native grazers and capable of successfully outcompeting corals even in low nutrient environments. Without the development of effective removal and educational outreach programs, these algae will continue to spread throughout the State, directly threatening the survival of Hawaii's coral reefs, which comprise 85% of the coral reefs of the U.S. In Hawaii, marine systems are an estimated 25% endemic and support almost all facets of life, including cultural heritage, social activities, and economic stability. Alien algae are a threat to this important part of the Hawaii ecosystem.

Waikiki Clean-up Events

The Aohe Limue or alien algae cleanup events are designed to educate the public about the problems of invasive species in the State. These are large-scale removal efforts of the invasive alga, Gracilaria salicornia, with volunteers from the local community, including individual community members, local school groups, extra-curricular activity groups, and other local community service groups. The events inform the public about the threat of introduced species by having them participate directly in removing mats of algae from the reefs in Waikiki. The volunteers see first-hand the destruction the algae is creating on the coral reef ecosystem here in Hawaii. The events include resources from many entities working together to ensure volunteers are getting the most out of the experience.

The process of the events is as follows:

There are three stations for volunteers to help with in the removal events, as in-water help, onshore help, and as sorters.

diving for algae at Waikiki Volunteers in the water include boogie boarders, snorkelers and longboarders. They help UH Scientific Certified SCUBA divers bring the algae from underwater to shore SCUBA divers remove algae from the ocean floor in 8-12 feet of water around sunken bins with floats as markers. The divers sit on the sandy bottom and fill burlap bags with algae. Snorkelers take the full bag from the divers and hands it to the boogie boarders. These volunteers then bring the bags to the surfboarders to be carried to shore. Empty bags are sent back via surfboard to the snorkeler who gives them to the diver.

carrying algae at WaikikiThe second station is onshore where volunteers create a human chain to carry the burlap bags from the water's edge to the recycling container. The bags are passed from person to person, which are then emptied by the algae sorters at the container. The empty bags are then sent back down the chain to the shoreline to be carried out to the divers. This process continues until the divers' surface.

sorting algae at Waikiki The third station consists of volunteers who help sort through all the algae that is brought in from the water onto tables an algae found within the algal mass to be returned to sea. Once the algae have been sorted, volunteers unload the invasive algae into the recycling container and release the native algae and any critters back into the water.

Aohe Limue banner
Gracilaria salicornia algae at Waikiki
Gracilaria salicornia algae at Waikiki

Aohe Limue shirt
Aohe Limue shirt

Gracilaria salicornia algae covering coral
the alien algae covers the coral

Gracilaria salicornia algae at Waikiki
the coral gets smothered

Gracilaria salicornia algae on the beach at Waikiki
algae on the beach at Waikiki

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This page was created on 23 September 2005 by EMS, and was last updated on 13 August 2007 by PN. Valid HTML 4.01!