The Living Reef

Restoring the health of our coral reefs is essential if we are to create a sustainable future for our islands.

Life Like Nowhere Else

Over evolutionary time, Hawaiʻi's isolated Pacific location gave rise to one of the world's unique coral reef communities. 

The first corals and marine creatures floated here on ocean currents and then hunkered down to begin life anew, 2,500 miles from the nearest continental land mass. Strong currents and cooler temperatures at the northern edge of the tropics presented challenges for the new species, which depend on warm, shallow water. Out of hundreds of genera of coral, just five came to dominate in Hawai‘i. Within these hardy groups, remarkable species evolved that were adapted to the new habitat. 


This Moray eel isnʻt eating his dinner -- heʻs getting his teeth cleaned by a scarlet cleaner shrimp. 

This Moray eel isnʻt eating his dinner -- heʻs getting his teeth cleaned by a scarlet cleaner shrimp. 

Yellow tang and convict tangs eat the algae off the back of a green sea turtle. 

Yellow tang and convict tangs eat the algae off the back of a green sea turtle.