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Coral Restoration

Friends of Hanauma Bay’s mission is to conserve, protect, and restore Hanauma Bay. We are excited that coral restoration in Hanauma has recently become a reality! Leveraging the unprecedented almost nine month closure of Hanauma Bay due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Friends approached scientists and local elected officials about initiating a landmark coral restoration pilot project in the Bay in partnership with the Hawai’i Coral Restoration Nursery (HCRN). The first nursery-grown corals for a pilot project were successfully outplanted in October 2020, and funding for the first large-scale coral restoration project was received shortly thereafter through a generous donation from the Kahiau Foundation. In January 2021, the HCRN sourced Hawaiian endemic corals to be fast-grown at their land-based nursery facility to be outplanted in Hanauma Bay as the first coral restoration project in the Bay’s history.  These corals will restore colonies of the same endemic corals that were damaged or destroyed by a floating log in early 2020.

Taking Action

We want to bring all our supporters close to this milestone project, and to be able to follow the progress of these corals. David Gulko, Director at the Department of Land and Natural Resources Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, and his staff have agreed to let us film each step of the coral restoration process and to take interviews with us. We are excited about this amazing opportunity to document each step “our” corals will go through at the nursery until they are outplanted to the inner reef of the Witches Brew end of Hanauma Bay.

The first project aims to restore a stretch of reef that was scoured by a large heavy log in the summer of 2020. The log took several days to roll back and forth over the reef before it finally washed up on the beach. Unfortunatly, the log caused considerable damage to the existing Brown Lobe Coral at that end of the Bay. So this first restoration project aims to restore some of that damage by outplanting healthy, nursery grown coral colonies.

Click on each of the videos below to learn more! As always, we welcome questions and feedback, so please don’t hesitate to contact us via

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Episode 1 – Introduction

Episode 1 is an introduction to the project in which Michael Feeley sat down with our President Lisa Bishop to discuss the project background and how the whole idea of coral restoration at Hanauma Bay took shape.

Episode 2 – Coral Quarantine

Eposide 2 was filmed at the Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, where one of the Coral Restoration Specialists, Chelsea Wolke, showed us the newly sourced corals in quarantine and explained the quarantine process, which is necessary to prevent the potential spreading of diseased coral to the outplanting location.

Episode 3 – Micro-Fragmentation

Episode 3 was also filmed at the Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, where Senior Coral Specialist Norton Chan and Coral Technician Taylor Engle fragmented coral number 9 from Episode 2, prepared it for the growth tank, and explained how micro-fragmentation enables faster growth in a laboratory tank than growing fragments of Hawaiian corals in the ocean.

Episode 4 – Concrete

We went back to the Hawai’i Coral Restoration Nursery to talk with Coral Restoration Technicians Angel Demers and Honor Weber, to learn how Coral Number 9 and our other Hanauma Bay corals are progressing. We also learned about the shape of the concrete modules on which the coral grow and what it takes to make these modules.

Episode 5 – Food & Light

In Episode 5 we learn from Coral Restoration Technician Honor Weber what food corals get and how it is prepared, and from Senior Coral Specialist Norton Chan how special light conditions help coral grow faster at the nursery than they do in the ocean.

Episode 6 – New Tanks and Progress

In Episode 6 we visit the Hawai’i Coral Restoration Nursery to see the newly installed grow-out tanks, dedicated 100% to growing Hanauma Bay corals. We catch up with Coral Restoration Nursery Curator Chelsea Wolke to see how the growth of the Hanauma Bay corals is progressing and how soon they will be ready for the final step before being outplanted to Hanauma Bay.

Episode 7 – Acclimation Stage

For Episode 7 we witness the first of our Hanauma Bay corals moving into the outdoor acclimation tank, where we learn all about this important acclimation stage to get the coral module ready for outplanting at Hanauma Bay.

Episode 8 – Phase I Outplant

Episode 8 documents the first of two coral module outplant events in the final stage of this historic coral restoration project at Hanauma Bay.  As we shared in earlier videos, Friends of Hanauma Bay funded the Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery to fast-grow six 42 cm modules of endemic brown lobe corals to restore similar corals damaged or destroyed by marine debris in early 2020.  In order to help ensure the survivability of these modules, only one of the six modules is outplanted in Episode 8.  It will be continuously monitored for approximately four weeks.  If the corals on the module acclimate well, the remaining five modules will be outplanted near the first one in Phase II of the outplant process.