Survey Locates Marine Debris and Monk Seals Around the Island of Kaho‘olawe in the Main Hawaiian Islands

Derelict fishing gear, like this trawl net, can entangle and kill green sea turtles and other marine life.

Center scientists continue to make inroads on derelict fishing gear and other marine debris that poses a threat to the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtle, and other inhabitants of coral reef ecosystems in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Recently, staff from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) and Protected Species Division (PSD) spent a day conducting an aerial survey around the island of Kaho‘olawe, in the main Hawaiian Islands. They located accumulations of marine debris on the reef and along the shoreline and counted endangered Hawaiian monk seals on Kaho‘olawe's beaches. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.

The surveyors counted 5 monk seals and detected 255 marine debris accumulations around Kaho‘olawe. The Center's coral reef scientists have compiled these results with data from other aerial surveys in the main Hawaiian Islands and are preparing a booklet showing the locations of marine debris around each island. The information will help management agencies and other stakeholders find and remove the debris.

During 2008, marine debris specialists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division removed more than 5.9 metric tons of derelict fishing nets from the island of Oahu alone.

For more information contact: Tony Perry (marine debris) or Charles Littnan (monk seals)