Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
USGS Pacific Coral Reefs Website
Near Pālāʻau, the shallow coral reef flat reaches its widest development on southern Molokaʻi, approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 km). At the time this video was taken, a recreational fishing structure (known locally as the Fish Hut) is built on the reef flat at the edge of a channel. Viewed from the air, the channel cuts across the reef flat. The channel likely originates from a recent period of lower sea lever when streams flowed directly across the reef flat. At present, it focuses land-derived sediments that have funneled between the volcanic highlands of west and east Molokaʻi. Sediment is transported across the reef, suspended in water, possibly affecting coral reef health, as evidenced by the general lack of living coral in this nearshore area. A fishing net caught on a coral reef head is evidence of human impact on the reef. Coral rubble, debris from coralline algae, and mud and sand from land blanket the shoreward stretches of the reef. For a reef that is noted for its overall excellent health, portions clearly are degraded by both human-induced and natural processes.