Inside Okala

The pointed islet, Okala
The pointed islet, Okala

Our Kalaupapa dive team recently conducted a survey of the fauna inside the archway of the picturesque islet, Okala. Our survey revealed that much of the inner walls of the archway are covered with the Carijoa riisei, the invasive snowflake coral.

These beautiful corals found their way to the Hawaiian islands around the 1970s, hitching rides on the hulls of ships. They prefer dark habitats, as they do not harbor any zooxanthellae, a symbiotic dinoflagellate found in many other corals, and thus don't use photosynthesis for energy. Sheets of C. riisei line the walls near the air-water interface at the top of the archway.

Carijoa riisei are displacing and out-competing the native Hawaiian black corals, which prefer these same dark habitats.

We are collaborating with the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) on future eradication efforts of the C. riisei inside Okala. For more info visit the HISC.