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Dissolving Right in Front of our Eyes and our Government is Blind

August 12, 2014


I went diving two days ago at a reef that I did not know existed only 4 years ago! It is a deep water island right in between Tunnels and Cannons. I saw some surf breaking there on a large winter swell a few years back so I paddled out on my kayak and drug along the sandy bottom a fishing line and hook until I snagged onto the reef!

The first time I dropped down to the reef at 40 feet deep I was extremely excited. Kind of like going to another planet. I named the reef “roi reef” because it had so many invasive peacock grouper (roi) on it. My NOAA and UH friends had never heard of this reef nor could they find a name for it, so my name stuck.

The fish have no fear of people as they more than likely have never seen a human before. The corals on the reef were in perfect shape four years ago and still in good shape only 6 months ago.

Something changed. The big old growth mound corals are now dissolving and turning into mud. The reef is breaking down. I took video of about 100 large mound corals that are about 30 years old to 1,000 years old. All but two had at least 30% dissolved within the last six months!! One out of every ten rice corals were being eaten up by the black band coral disease.

This reef is in fairly deep water for coral growth (because coral needs the suns energy to grow), and there are strong currents that flush over the reef daily keeping it clean. It is an ideal reef for healthy coral growth as it is far out enough to not have the effects from people and agricultural pesticide run off, like the inner reefs do.

But what was stunning for me to see and take video of was the health of the reef went down hill very quickly! It takes thousands of years for many of these corals to grow and only 6 months to now see them dissolve into mud.

When corals die from pesticides the hard coral skeleton remains. This is the base for new corals to grow on top of, if the pollution is halted. But the corals at Roi Reef are not just dying, they are dissolving and disappearing all together as if they never existed to begin with.

Soon Roi Reef will just be a large rock on the bottom of the sea with no life at all. Maybe much like it looked when it was formed many millions of years ago.

Since this reef is in the direct line of fire from the Military RIMPAC games that are using massive amounts of electronic warfare, one may be lead to believe that the reef is being killed by the massive sound waves and electromagnetic radiation being used daily in the area. The Military is sinking ships with this new type of warfare. Seems to me that if a steel ship can be destroyed by high energy sonar, lasers and microwaves that a hard 1,000 year old coral could also be dissolved by this same energy. If a drive by shooter kills someone next to you with a bullet, you could logically deduce that the bullet would also kill you, if it came your way!

If anyone else can come up with any logical idea that would explain this basically unknown, once health reef to die so quickly, then my ears are open! Maybe the NAVY could fund a study to try and find out what is dissolving our corals?

If I had not found this reef for another two years then I would have never know how beautiful it once was! Remember the phase “If a tree falls in the middle of the forest but no one sees it, did the tree fall?”

Just think how many corals have fallen in the last few years that no one saw. So did they actually fall because us humans did not see them? Yes, as the sea creatures saw them fall, like this large moray eel because the coral was once it home.

I will go back once a month to Roi Reef and video these very corals so you can see first hand what I am seeing everyday all along the north shore of Kauai.


Terry Lilley
Marine Biologist
Hanalei, Kauai

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From → Biology, Geophysics

  1. This is beautiful and deep, an interesting and great read ūüôā

    • Serena,

      I hope and pray you are doing OK.

      Thanks for reading!


      • No problem!

        Keep posting stuff like this, I’m greatly looking forward in reading : )


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