Maui News

Celebrating National Estuaries Week in Hawai‘i

September 19, 2019, 2:54 PM HST
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The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is sharing a top ten list of things to know about Hawaiian estuaries.

The list was complied to mark the observance of National Estuaries Day, which was established in 1988 to promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them.

The annual observance was expanded into a week-long event in 2013. Below is the top 10 list complied by the Aquatic Resources division.

  1. Estuaries form wherever freshwater mixes with salt water, meaning that even on the arid Kona Coast of Hawai’i Island the coastal groundwater creates estuaries.
  2. The most isolated estuaries in the world are found in the Hawaiian Islands, with the nearest estuaries about 2,000 miles away.
  3. Estuaries (muliwai) are critical nursery grounds for coastal species & valued for fishing and cultural practices as well as for their biological diversity.
  4. Estuaries are highly productive ecosystems that provide various and abundant food sources needed by juvenile fish for rapid growth.
  5. The diversity of habitats found in estuaries provide juvenile fish with refuge from their predators.
  6. Over 120 species of fish have been documented to use Hawaiian estuaries sometime during their life histories.
  7. One of the most common juvenile fish found in Hawaiian estuaries is only found in Hawai’i: the aholehole or Hawaiian Flagtail.
  8. Hawai’i has about 150 different estuaries.
  9. There are three types of estuaries in Hawaii: riverine or stream-mouths, bays, and lagoons.
  10. DAR has a team of researchers dedicated to understanding and improving management of Hawaii estuaries.

“Protecting and respecting our estuaries is vital to our overall ecosystem. Our unique and isolated geography makes some of our estuaries different than any other place in the world. If we can continue to learn about the importance of estuaries to Hawai’i, it will benefit us all for generations to come,” said Brian Neilson, DAR Administrator.

PC: Hawaiʻi DLNR.

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