Dredging contractor accused of damaging O‘ahu coral

  • Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

    A piece of metal is seen near broken coral in waters in the area where dredging allegedly damaged coral reefs in Honolulu Harbor.

HONOLULU — The state is investigating circumstances associated with what is described as significant damage to corals and live rock near the entrance channel to Honolulu Harbor.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted dredging work to the Healy Tibbets Corporation. It is alleged the contractor dragged the dredging platform’s anchor and cable across coral colonies and deposited dredged material on corals.

Divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were conducting water-quality monitoring on May 4 when they noticed damage stretching across an estimated 17,500 square yards.

They photographed broken and toppled coral colonies and dredged material smothering them. The divers reported the damage to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources, which is responsible for coral ecosystems in state waters.

“This is a large and significant damage event,” said DAR Administrator Brian Neilson. “The last few days our dive teams have been in the water doing further assessments and documenting the scope of the damage.”

On Friday, DAR divers began collecting live coral fragments from the area. Using a special marine epoxy, they’ll re-attach some broken corals. Others will be collected and taken to the Anuenue Coral Restoration Nursery on Sand Island, where specialists hope to grow them out for eventual return to the ocean.

Particularly disturbing, Neilson said, is damage to a (ITAL) Porites evermanni coral colony estimated to be several hundred years old. A 2019 photograph shows a healthy colony. Last week’s photo appears to show the extremely large colony of live coral overturned and lying on the bottom, in danger of dying due to suffocation.

Due to its size and weight, specialized equipment will need to be brought in to try to lift the colony and return it back to its upright position. Righting the coral as soon as possible will increase its chances of survival.

  1. nobody May 16, 2021 6:52 am Reply

    Maybe we should stop bringing in supply ships? That might solve the tourism problem as well.

  2. mark May 18, 2021 6:42 am Reply

    How did this happen? Shouldn’t this be prevented by specific requirements in the contract? This is criminal and needs to be prosecuted!!

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