Invasive Algae Clean-up

Waikiki Aquarium Invasive Algae Removal in Celebration of Dr. Isabella Abbott

Saturday, June 24, 2017
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Waikiki Aquarium

Volunteers joined us as we celebrated Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott’s birthday and helped in rehabilitating the iconic Hawaiian landmark – Waikiki Beach – during an invasive algae clean up. Dr. Abbott was an educator and ethnobotanist from Hawaii. She was the first native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in science, and became the leading expert on Pacific algae.

Several species of alien algae have become established on Hawaii’s reefs, and have contributed towards the decline of some reef areas. One such area is the reef fronting the Aquarium, and here efforts have been underway since 2002 to remove these alien species and to restore the reef to its natural condition. Driven by Dr. Celia Smith and her students at the University of Hawaii’s Department of Botany, this Waikiki Aquarium/Botany Department collaboration is a community-oriented project that seeks to remove the alien algae from the reef ecosystem by picking them from the substrate and loading them onshore. Care is taken that any native species inadvertently collected by volunteers is returned to the ocean. The alien algae are weighed, to assess both the scale of the challenge and the effectiveness of the removal efforts, and transported to Honolulu Zoo. There the algae are added to the Zoo’s compost pile, which is used to fertilize the plants on the Zoo grounds and available for public use. At each cleanup, volunteers numbers range from 25 to 90 and represent individuals from throughout the community. All ages are welcome, however minors should be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Outline of activities:

  • Cleanup started around 9:00 a.m. with an introduction and overview of the native limu and alien seaweeds for the assembled group of volunteers
  • Volunteers loaded burlap bags/Buckets into big wheeled trashcans and used the ramp to bring algae up from the reef
  • Once at the sidewalk level, the algae was drained for about 5 minutes and then sorted through the biomass
  • Invasive biomass was then weighed and weight recorded
  • Weighed biomass was dumped into the back of a truck parked nearby at the cul de sac, by the banyan
  • Once filled, the truck went across the street to the zoo, and biomass was added to their compost pile