Krista Heide: On Hawaii's Reefs
Occupation: Non-profit marine conservation; photographer; scuba instructor
Home: Kaneohe, HI
Favorite diving spot: The Kona coast is loaded with great spots...plenty of fish and inverts to make for great diving, and always the chance that a turtle, ray, dolphin, shark, or even a whale could go cruising by!
Favorite diving experience in Hawaii: Free diving with false killer whales and spinner dolphins off the Kona coast.
Favorite example of symbiosis on the reef: The Coral Guard Crab that lives in Pocillopora (Antler or Califlower coral) and defends its home by nipping and driving away crown of thorn starfish when they attempt to eat the coral head.
Fascinating and interesting marine creature: The flamboyant cuttle fish; unfortunately not a species we find here. In Hawaii, the day octopus.
How are reefs faring in Hawaii overall? Although all the islands still have a few great underwater sites, in my non-scientific opinion, I think humans have taken a huge toll on Hawaii’s reefs relative to each island’s population. The differences between between Oahu and the Big Island are striking, and presumably related to the amount of anthropogenic stress each is impacted by. The reefs on the Big Island are thriving and full of life in comparison to what we see on Oahu; a great example of why it is vitally important to implement stronger management and protection measures for our coral reef ecosystems as each island grows; to keep our healthy reefs in balance and to give our threatened and damaged reefs a chance to recover!
What are some healthy reef indicators: The presence of large herbivores: parrotfish.
Tips for protecting the reef? Only eat fish that have been caught sustainably. Pick up at least 5 pieces of plastic trash or fishing debris every time you’re at the beach or in the water.