HONOLULU (KHON2) — The day after the luxury yacht the Nakoa was removed from Honolua Bay, a team from Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute dove down to see the damage that was caused.

“There was some pretty severe damage,” said Morgan Gardner, who works with MOC Marine Institute. “Essentially, where the boat got pulled out, there are these really long, deep gouge marks that just went right through the middle of a lot of corals.”

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Gardner continued to explain the incident:

“I would say there’s like at least a couple hundred yards of reef that just essentially got scraped right through and removed any — any kind of living creatures there any coral, any algae, any other small like creatures that were living on there. So it was some pretty extensive damage.”

The team collected roughly 300 fragments and about 15 coral heads and brought them back to their lab for restoration.

Gardner explained that while some of the fragments did not survive the stress of the removal process, most of them were healthy enough to be restored.

“By putting a lot of fragments kind of close together, they actually will grow into each other and form a larger colony from smaller fragments,” Gardner explained.

Inside their lab, the institute is simulating the corals’ natural environment with ocean water pumped in from Maalaea Harbor to create water movement mimicking waves, and the water temperature and levels mirror conditions at Honolua Bay. The corals are also given food supplements under grow lights.

Gardner explained that smaller fragments can be re-attached to the reef in about six months. “We use marine-safe epoxy to glue them back down to a spot. So we would find a suitable spot, remove any algae on the surface of that spot,” she said.

As for the larger colonies, Gardner said those can be re-attached soon, but they are waiting on winter swells to die down so the coral isn’t knocked over again.

MOC Marine Institute also removed any remaining fiberglass and other materials left behind. The group is not being paid for their work and will be seeking volunteers in the coming weeks.

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MOC Marine Institute is dedicated to protecting Hawaii’s marine life and ecosystems.