Hanalei Bay is dying

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com) SUBHEAD: Hanalei Bay is going down hill fast and we need to act now to save it.  

By Terry Lilley on 3 July 2011 reposted by Raven Liddle -  

 Image above: Mouth of Hanalei Bay on Kauai's north shore. From (http://insidenanabreadshead.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/homeaway-ruined-hotels-for-me/).

There is some very disturbing things happening right now in Hanalei Bay that I think everyone would be concerned about. I have studied the sea for 45 years worldwide and this is one of the worst shallow water problems I have ever seen and it seems to be just ignored.

Thousands of yards of river sediment washed out into the bay during the last rains. This caused a sand bar that you can walk on that is twice as far out as the Hanalei Pier!! The sand bar even filled in the boat channel. Some may say this happens from time to time. I think that is just BS.

I cannot find one person who can verify that a sand bar has developed this far out in the bay in the past nor can I find any photos and I have done some good research. The sand bar has caused much of the muddy river water to flow over the reef at Hanalei making surfers sick. Where did all this material come from?

Over the past year an engineering company from Oahu has been studying the upper Hanalei River. I went to a meeting with them about two months ago. They said that a burm built by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the upper river years ago is falling apart and a massive amount of sediment is clogging the river. This study cost a lot of money and is available for public review. At the meeting I talked about the dying corals in the bay and how the constant flow of mud out of the bay is not normal.

Ten years ago the water in the bay was crystal clear just three days after a big rain. The water today is still murky brown 10 days after the rain and it rarely EVER gets clear. I have done over 300 scuba dives at Hanalei over the past few years and I keep a log on the visibility. It gets worse every month. This is just not a normal cycle.

At the meeting the US Fish and Wildlife agent said to me on video that he thinks some of the mud on the reef killing the corals is coming from the decaying burm that now has an 85 foot gap in it! I was blown away by the comment because he just admitted to violating several federal laws! The endangered species act has wording that makes it a crime to alter in any way the feeding, breeding, and movements of any endangered species. This is called a “Take” and this law applies to all private and government land owners.

This decaying burm along with other private diggings in the river wetland are a clear violation of the ESA laws along with EPA and water quality laws. MANY protected and endangered species are directly effected by altering the flow of the river and polluting the bay with toxins and sediment. I can prove this with lots of HD video. I also have several Supreme Court cases where the wording in the ESA laws was interpreted and can easily be applied to the alterations of the Hanalei River.

I did a dive yesterday in the shallow water at Waipa as much of the river mud has settled out on that side of the bay. I was blown away with what I found! Almost 100% of the live corals are bleached and covered in mud in the shallow water. This process is normal, but only if the mud is washed off the corals within a few days by the surf and currents. The mud is so thick on these corals and more mud is flowing onto them daily, that there is basically no chance for them to survive.

I hate to say but in 60 days when I video these corals again, almost if not all will be dead. This problem is a huge legal issue. There are MANY past cases in Hawaii and Florida where private land owners have had excessive mud flow onto a coral reef killing the corals and those land owners were taken to court and suffered large fines.

Now we have the government along with some private land owners altering the flow of the Hanalei River, polluting the bay and killing the corals. No small wonder why nothing ever gets done concerning the Hanalei River when the government agency that we pay to protect the ecosystem is a part of its destruction!

Even a river or bay restoration project has to follow the ESA laws and must have constant monitoring of the reefs in the bay. This is standard procedure within a Habitat Conservation Plan. As of now there is almost no monitoring of the reefs in Hanalei Bay except my weekly dives I do for free. I just wonder how long the people of Hanalei are going to put up with this.


You cannot kill a 50 year old coral without doing something that will lead to human health problems. These attached pics are out of my videos from the last few days showing bleached and damaged corals and the massive sand bar by the pier.

All of my pics and movies come with GPS, time and date and I know they will be used one day in court to prove what is happening to our bay and near shore ecosystem, so I make sure I can prove everything. I can also take anyone out to these areas and show them in person what is happening. I have HD video since 2006 in Hanalei Bay showing the decline of the shallow water corals and the build up of river sediment on the reefs we surf over.

Once again no one as of now has paid me a dime to do my dives, studies, videos and reporting.  I do this because Hanalei is my home and I hate it when my home gets covered in mud and toxins!

I know damn well that my reporting ruffles a few feathers but better ruffed now than flat out dead in the future!

Hanalei Bay is going down hill fast and we need to act now and work together if we intend to have it a healthy place for our children to play in down the road.

Land owners, government officials, surfers and private citizens all have one thing in common. Children, and we all need to have a healthy ocean for them to grow up in and we are doing a very bad job of keeping our bay clean right now.


1 comment :

Hi said...



Hanaeli River is an American heritage River and as such enjoys special protections. Get some of the well connected people on Kauai on the phone to the EPA Administrator in Washington and explain what is going on. Also contact the EPA Ombudsman:

and contact others in Washington.

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