The following are guidelines to help you enjoy the beauty of Hawai‘i’s reefs without damaging them. Mahalo for reading this information and passing on the message!
- When snorkeling or diving, you should not touch, walk on, stand on, or break live corals. Corals are living animals that provide food and shelter to other reef animals.
- Try not to kick up sand or sediment when on the reef — it blocks sunlight that is essential to reef dwellers such as corals.
- Do not remove anything from the reef — everything has a purpose. Taking live coral or rock with attached marine life is illegal in Hawai‘i.
- Hawaiian reef fish play a vital role to the health of the reef system because they feed on algae. Fish feeding upsets the natural balance on the reef — introduced food can be harmful to fish. It is also illegal. Reef fish such as the butterflyfish and parrotfish naturally eat coral and algae.
- If you are using sunscreen, use an environmentally friendly brand and put it on at least 15 minutes before you enter the water.
- Please observe sea turtles on the shore from a distance of at least 10 feet and do not disturb resting turtles on the ocean floor, under ledges, or on rocks. When swimming, give turtles space and do not touch them. Report any turtle mistreatment to DOCARE at 808-974-6208. If you see a sick, injured or dead sea turtle stranded on land, please call 808-881-4200 or 808-327-4961.
- Dispose of your trash properly! Plastics in the water can damage and kill marine life.
Watch the Reef Etiquette Video by Ziggy Livnat
What else can you do?
- Become a ReefTeacher at Kahalu‘u Bay or set up a similar program in your local community. Contact email@example.com or call 808-887-6411 if you are interested in either of these.
- Support conservation organizations and programs in your area.
- Support reef-friendly businesses and encourage businesses to support reef management and education activities.
- Learn more about our reefs so you can help others understand the value of reefs in Hawai‘i. Spread the word!
- Report dumping, poaching, or other illegal activities.
- Never anchor directly onto reefs — anchor in sand or on moorings.
- Take steps to decrease overfishing — support sustainable fishing practices.
- Support legislation to protect Hawai‘i’s reefs and inform yourself about existing laws.
- Get involved in monitoring your local marine environment and preventing marine water pollution — begin with minimizing your own sewage and runoff.
- Support the creation and maintenance of marine parks and reserves.
- Promote responsible development — coastal overdevelopment is one of the ocean’s biggest threats.