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Punalu'u, Hawai'i 

Special Features

Punalu'u is exposed to the open ocean and naturally receives high amounts of fresh-water runoff from Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, which rises behind it. As a result, this area does not have well developed coral reefs but instead has scattered heads of lobe coral (Porites lobata) encrusting on rocks covered with many species of seaweeds. The seaweeds in turn, promote a high number of grazers in this area, primarily fishes and sea turtles. coral.jpg (14954 bytes)
Surgeonfish are very common, especially Manini or convict tangs (Acanthurus triostegus). Large schools can be found grazing on rocks throughout the bay, but they are especially common near the shore were the seaweed abundance is high.

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Another very common grazer here is the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia midas) which frequents the inshore waters in search of seaweeds. Its preferred diet at Punalu'u is Pterocladia caerulescens, a red seaweed which is quite abundant on rocks in 1-2 feet of water. Because sea turtles are very common here, Puanulu'u is one of the major sites on the Big Island for turtle research.

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Last update: 1/25/2005