Puako Reef and Tidepool Exploration

Mauka wildfires impact makai waters. Many people don’t realize that wildfires can have long-lasting impacts that affect our watersheds, drinking water, and coral reefs. After a wildfire, soils are left bare and especially after more intense wildfires, those soils can become hydrophobic or “scared of water.” Rainfall events that frequent our islands can wash away thousands of years of top soil into our waterways, taking along with it trash, debris, chemicals, and other pollutants, eventually smothering our fragile coral reefs.

In 2016, Maui had its worst wildfire season in many years. With barely any vegetation left in the burned areas to hold down silty soils, a mid-September storm rained down on the burned lands and carried trash and debris through our watersheds and out into the ocean.
Chad Wiggins points out species living in Puako's tidepools.

Chad Wiggins points out species living in Puako's tidepools.

On September 23, a few HWMO donors from the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off who bid on experiences at the silent auction joined expert marine naturalist Chad Wiggins and HWMO Executive Director and Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors program founder, Elizabeth Pickett in Puako. Together, they explored Puako’s diverse and ecologically important tide pool and reef systems. During the tide pool exploration portion, they learned about the plants and animals that live at the intersection of ocean and land while identifying local intertidal organisms. For the reef exploration portion, the attendees learned about coral reefs and the current coastal challenges such as post-fire erosion that threaten them. Of course, we also focused on actions we can take to protect our shorelines, including preventing wildfires!

Puako Reef and Tidepool Exploration 9/23/17