New Scientific Study Finds Coral Reefs Under Attack From Chemical in Sunscreen as Global Bleaching Event Hits

A new study published today in a toxicology journal has found that a chemical widely used in personal care products such as sunscreen, poses an ecological threat to corals and coral reefs and threatens their existence.

Coral BleachingOxybenzone is found in over 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, and pollutes coral reefs from swimmers wearing sunscreens and through wastewater discharges from municipal sewage outfalls and from coastal septic systems.

The study comes less than two weeks after NOAA declared the third ever global coral bleaching event and warned that locally produced threats to coral, such as pollution, stress the health of corals and decrease the likelihood that they will resist bleaching, or recover from it.

It demonstrates that exposure of coral planulae (baby coral) to oxybenzone, produces gross morphological deformities, damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor. The latter causes the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton leading to death.

These effects were observed as low as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools

Measurements of oxybenzone in seawater within coral reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands found concentrations ranging from 800 parts per trillion to 1.4 parts per million. This is over 12 times higher than the concentrations necessary to impact on coral.

A team of marine scientists from Virginia, Florida, Israel, the National Aquarium (US) and the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, undertook the study.  Lead author Dr. Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Virginia, said, “The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue.  We have lost at least 80% of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”

Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion are emitted into coral reef areas each year, much of which contains between one and 10% oxybenzone.

Further information about the study can be found at and

Delta to Fly Direct Routes From Seattle to Kona

Delta Airlines today announced they will be launching new flights  from Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle and one of the destinations announced was Kona airport here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Delta Airlines
In all, Delta will launch service to ten destinations from Seattle between November 2015 and May 2016: Billings, Mont.; Boston; Cancun, Mexico; Edmonton, Alberta; Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island; Missoula, Mont.; Orange County; Orlando; Pasco, Wash.; and Victoria, British Columbia. Some service may be operated by Delta Connection carriers SkyWest Airlines and Compass Airlines.

Puna Halloween Party

Orchidland Neighbors, a 501c (3) organization was founded in March 2015 to create a community center-clubhouse in Orchidland. They will be holding their second fundraiser Friday October 30, 2015 from 5 till 9 p.m. at the Eagles Club in Kea`au, at Highway 130. Pre-sale tickets are available for only $20 at CD Wizard, Keaau Natural Foods and All Things Beautiful. This Halloween party ticket includes pizza, salad, live music, dancing and comedy. Beverages (including cocktails) are available for sale at the event.

Halloween PartyThere is a Halloween Costume Contest open to ages 18 and older. There is no additional entry fee. (Modesty is encouraged, please.) Winners will be chosen by audience applause.

Besides the costume contest and prizes, the highlight of this evening’s event will be the extraordinary live music by “The Bird” with dancing on a full-sized dance floor, starting at 6 p.m. The band plays outstanding classic rock featuring lead guitarist for the LPG’s Steve Fundy. Steve has played with the great Nick Gravenites, a Chicago Blues Man who played with Electric Flag and the Butterfield Blues Band. In the 1990’s he moved into the psychedelic music world.

Also featured in “The Bird” is Dave Seawater, a four time Na Hoku award nominee. Completing the band is Barney Lindberg and Gary Kort. Barney plays music island wide with cover bands, and Gary plays with the LPG’s.

Live comedy will be performed by Sherri Carden, the “Puna Princess”, starting at 5:30. She will share stories about her whacky farm animals, as well as tips on “low-budget remodeling, Puna Style.”

“We are striving to build a place to hold community events, classes and private parties, open to all at a minimum cost,” says Sharon Landry, President of Orchidland Neighbors.

It is the hope of Orchidland Neighbors (ON) that this and upcoming fundraisers will create the beginning stages for a multi-use building. The exact location is still to be determined. It will be somewhere in or near Orchidland for easy access by nearby residents.

You may visit Orchidland Neighbors online at

For more information, to volunteer, or to donate, call Ginny Aste at 854-1225


Big Island Manta Ray Viewing Subject of Proposed New Rules

The popularity of manta ray viewing sites at Makako Bay (Garden Eel Cove) along the coastline fronting the Sheraton Keauhou Bay on the Big Island’s Kona coast has captured media, state and federal attention.  These manta ray viewing opportunities are unique worldwide and tours are conducted in two specific areas where mantas tend to congregate at night to feed on plankton.

manta Ray

In recent years it has come to the attention of the DLNR that commercial manta ray night snorkeling and diving at these two popular sites has expanded considerably and the activity is in need of regulation in order to preserve the resource and prevent the dangers posed by overcrowding.  The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) is actively engaged in responsibly investigating the tour operations taking place and working to further regulate manta tour activities for safety and for the environment.

Three years ago the U.S. Coast Guard worked with commercial dive tour operators to draft voluntary safety standards to which the operators currently adhere.  In early 2014, DLNR began facilitating tour operator working groups to develop a consensus on the aspects of manta ray viewing operations in greatest need of attention. This includes assessing whether additional moorings could be installed to mitigate anchor damage, and limiting the number of operators allowed to conduct manta night dives and snorkeling.

This year in preparation for developing new administrative rules for the manta viewing sites, DLNR commissioned a third-party safety assessment of operations. That report identified a number of potential hazards to people such as live boating, multiple boats tying to a single mooring and insufficient lighting for divers and snorkelers in the water.  It also noted that operators strive to carry out safe boating practices and there have been no recorded incidents to date.  Collectively, commercial operators are open to making changes that will improve the user experience and safety without sacrificing the quality of the resources they’re utilizing.

DOBOR administrator Ed Underwood said, “We’re working closely with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), commercial tour operators, the staff of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay and other stakeholders to draft administrative rules to mitigate safety and environmental hazards and decrease the potential risk for a boating accident. DOBOR anticipates releasing a draft rule for public comment by early 2016.”


Manta Ray Rules Proposal-Media Clips 10-19-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.