Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
USGS Pacific Coral Reefs Website
Landsat satellite image from NASA
The smallest island of the main eight Hawaiian Islands is Kahoʻolawe. Located between the islands of Lānaʻi and Maui, it encompasses only 117 sq km (45 sq mi). Known as the Forbidden Isle, this culturally significant island was at different times used as a penal colony, a ranch, and a forest reserve. In 1941, Kahoʻolawe Ranch leased the island to the U.S. Navy and for many years it was used as target practice training grounds. In 2003 the island was transferred back to the State of Hawaiʻi and efforts are currently underway for restoration of native vegetation and protection of cultural artifacts.
NOTE: Due to unexploded ordinance in the surrounding waters, unauthorized entry to the island and to waters within two miles of the island is prohibited (H.A.R. §13-260).
Coral growth on Kahoʻolawe is limited to scattered coral communities at deeper depths. Due to the deforestation of the island, there is a significant problem with erosion and sediment run-off into the nearshore environment. The USGS is assisting the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission in these efforts. Click on the link below to find out more about this collaboration.
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1037