HONOLUA BAY, Hawaii (KHON2) — The luxury yacht, Nakoa, that ran aground in Honolua-Mokulē’ia Marine Life Conservation District on Maui on Feb. 20 has caused some damage to marine life.
It took over two weeks to free the yacht from the shallow waters. Due to the extensive damage to its hull, the yacht was scuttled in 800 feet of water.
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When the yacht ran aground, it damaged live rocks and coral in the preserve. But, it was not until after the Nakoa was removed before the full extent of the damage could be evaluated.
“We’re gonna be looking at the total impact … so, we’ll measure out, you know, all of the impact of what we call live rock, basically hard substrate,” said Russell Sparks, the Division of Aquatic Resources aquatic biologist.
DAR said that the yacht damaged 19,000-square-feet of coral and live rock. It also damaged and destroyed 19 coral colonies.
“We also are identifying all of the corals, living corals, that were impacted. We photograph and document them all. We estimate their size and identify them to species,” added Sparks.
There was more than 100 coral colonies and live rock impacted by the effort to drag the yacht out of shallow water and into deeper water.
DAR said that the yacht’s owner will be responsible for the damages and salvage costs.
According to DAR, they are collecting damaged cauliflower coral to help them recover from the event.
“And [we’re] also collecting, like, the cauliflower corals, when they get smashed, break up into a lot of little fragments. [They] will be collected. Some [will be] taking them back to their facility to grow out, get them healthy again,” explained Sparks.
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Sparks went on to say that once they are healthy again, the cauliflower coral either will be planted back or may be a part of a restoration project.