What is the relationship between coastal wetland health and coral reef health in Hawaii?

Coastal Wetlands: Coastal wetlands and coral reefs in Hawaii are interconnected and have a close relationship. Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves and salt marshes, provide a range of ecosystem services and are important habitats for a variety of species. These ecosystems are also important for the health of coral reefs, as they can serve as a buffer against coastal erosion and storm surges, and can filter out pollutants and excess nutrients that may be harmful to coral reefs.

Coastal wetlands in Hawaii, such as mangrove forests and salt marshes, can improve the health of coral reefs in several ways. First, they act as natural barriers, protecting the reefs from storm surges and erosion. Second, they filter pollutants and sediment from runoff before it reaches the reefs, reducing the amount of harmful substances that can damage the coral. Third, wetlands provide important nursery habitats for many species of fish and invertebrates that are important to the coral reef ecosystem. Additionally, Coastal wetlands in Hawaii help to maintain the water quality and hydrology necessary for coral reef health by buffering against changes in salinity, temperature, and nutrient levels.

There is a growing body of scientific research that has examined the relationship between coastal wetland health and coral reef health in Hawaii.

Protect Maui's Coral Reefs sign posted at Kalama Park
Protect Maui’s Coral Reefs sign posted at Kalama Park


Further reading:

  • COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS, https://seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/topics/topics-a-z/coastal-ecosystems/
  • Coral reef condition status report for the Hawaiian Archipelago, https://www.coris.noaa.gov/monitoring/status_report/docs/Hawaii_status_report_forweb.pdf