Protect the Marine Life of Olowalu Reef

Target: Maui County Council

Goal: To prevent the construction of a development that could severely threaten the aquatic life of Olowalu Reef.

Known the crown jewel of Maui’s reefs, Olowalu Reef extends over 3,000 feet beyond the shore. This makes it Maui’s largest reef, as well as its healthiest. Olowalu boasts twenty-four different species of coral and a thriving black tip reef shark nursery, as well as a key manta ray cleaning station and resident population across its over 450 acres.

Sadly, this is all being threatened by a planned development project by Frampton & Ward LLC which proposes a 600-acre makai-to-mauka development involving over 1,500 housing units. This term essentially means that the housing project will stretch from the ocean’s edge up into the mountainside. This will not only destroy the beautiful and scenic natural landscape which overlooks the reef, but also threaten the reef itself.

The region will lose important low-lying sink basins that occur during heavy rainfall if this development is built. These sink-basins help meter runoff that would otherwise flow unchecked directly into the reef. Contained within that runoff is sediment that can smother and kill corals, as well as pollutants such as gasoline and fertilizer which will threaten all marine life in the area.

That marine life includes both a shark nursery and, more importantly, a home for over 350 manta rays. This makes Olowalu reef the third largest resident population of these animals in the world. While still only listed as threatened, a rising demand for rays by practitioners of Chinese folk medicine is causing them to continue to edge closer to official endangered species designation every day. The loss of such a significant habitat could be that final push needed to force these animals onto the endangered species list.

For the health of the reef, and the marine life upon it, this development project cannot be allowed to continue. If it is not stopped, Olowalu Reef may suffer irreparable damage and possibly even be rendered incapable of supporting marine life.


Dear Maui County Council,

As Maui’s largest and healthiest reef, Olowalu is one of the defining natural elements that tourists and residents alike have come to love about Maui and the Hawaiian Islands as a whole. This reef extends out over 3,000 feet and comprises 450 acres. Encompassed within that space are twenty-four different species of coral, a black tip reef shark nursery, and a manta ray habitat and cleaning station. Because of this, it has come to be known as Maui’s crown jewel of reefs.

The development project by Frampton & Ward LLC threatens all of this. Its proposal to make a 600-acre makai-to-mauka project involving over 1,500 housing units could severely undermine the region’s ecosystem, including that of the reef itself. Low lying sink basins are extremely important as a means with which to meter how much runoff flows directly onto the reef during heavy rainfall. Development projects such as this would remove these sink basins, allowing a vast array of sediment to flow across the reef. This would then begin to choke and kill the very corals that serve as the backbone of the reef.

This is not the only threat; gasoline, fertilizer, and other chemicals also have the potential to join the runoff flowing directly onto the reef. These will not only harm coral, but threaten all marine life in and around the reef. This includes a manta ray population that is poised to join the endangered species list. At Olowalu reef lives the third largest resident population of manta rays in the world. Destroy their habitat and they very well could edge from threatened to officially becoming an endangered species.

I strongly urge you to protect Olowalu Reef and its marine population. Stop the development now, before Olowalu is irreparably damaged or destroyed.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. My husband went snorkeling here for the first time in his life 15 years ago and that one episode ignited the desire to scuba dive and observe sea life rather than eat life.
    Areas like this are hard to find, ease of entry yet beautiful coral and animals to see. Hopefully others entering these waters will have the same thoughts to keep oceans as pristine as possible. We need ways to appreciate nature, to slow down and savor life.

  2. Jennifer carter says:

    I love going there 2 dive & SUP. I am just always alarmed at the amount of trash on the beach & underwater . Dumpsters, or something needs 2 b done . As well as regular clean-ups . Close attention shud b paid. 2 what camping folks r doing down there. It’s just a mess & a shame.

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