Coral die-back in the Pacific due to US war programme tests, says scientist

Terry Lilley reports, 13th February 2017: As a scientist we are trained to present facts. Good, bad or ugly.

If you have been following my reporting (like 2 million other folks have been) over the last four years about the rapidly dying coral reefs along the north shore of Kauai then you may want to look at this report I just finished after 50 recent dives along the north shore of Kauai studying the corals.

In 2012 the coral reefs along the north shore of Kauai became infected with a cyanobacterial disease called The Black Band Coral Disease. I documented along with UH, USGS, NOAA and Scripps up to 50% of the corals dying along the north shore by 2015 at over 60 dive sites.

In these dive sites over 99% of the blue rice coral died. At the same time the coral disease rate in the Hawaiian Islands was around 1 to 3% infection rate but on the north shore of Kauai it was 10 to 30% infection rate. 

Many scientific institutions tried to blame the die off on rising sea temperatures and acid levels but that made zero sense because the north shore of Kauai had colder water temps then many places in the Pacific Ocean where the corals were doing fine. I went to Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, The Philippines, Costa Rica and the Caribbean to show this fact and prove it with video.

Several well know engineers figured out that the US Navy had launched an underwater war testing program in 2012 along the north shore of Kauai and they were discharging billions of watts of electricity into the sea. This discharge breaks down and corrodes the calcium carbonate structure of the coral making it susceptible to the Black Band Coral Disease.

I challenged the Navy on this issue and met with Commander Bruce Hay from the PMRF missile base in Kauai and showed him my data and underwater movies. The Navy openly admitted that they had not done any underwater studies to see if their electronic war testing was harming the coral reefs.

Earth Justice sued the Navy in 2015 over the use of near shore sonar and won. The judge in Honolulu told the Navy to move offshore and practice in less sensitive areas. Commander Hay told me personally that the Navy would move way offshore in 2016.

Now, one year later the corals are rapidly growing back at many near shore sites from Anini, Hanalei Bay, Wainiha and Ha’ena. Millions of new healthy corals have sprung up and are growing at a faster rate then I knew a coral could grow. Some of the corals have grown over 14 inches in one year! Even some of the devastated blue rice corals are now growing back in Hanalei Bay.

Lets just use some logic. In Hanalei Bay, Nualolo, Milolii and dozens of other locations along the north shore, over 90 % of the corals died since 2012. I have this all on over 1,000 hours of video. Currently the corals are growing back rapidly in these areas. The dying corals over the past four years did NOT bleach. They dissolved.

The sea temperatures are still rising, we still have leaking cesspools, people are still using sunscreen but the corals are growing back. Rapidly!

What has changed since 2012 when all of this started? The military left the area. That is it!

The east and south side of Kauai did not loose all their coral since 2012 because the military does not do their underwater electronic war games there. Except at Salt Pond of which lost 75% of it coral since 2012.

I think it is time to start looking at facts if we are going to save our coral reefs! The Australian Great Barrier Reef lost 50% of its coral and the US and Australian Military is doing the exact same underwater electronic war testing right off of that. But if you go north to Indonesia and the Southern Philippines where the US Navy is not doing their war testing the coral reefs are thriving and never died or bleached! Pupukea Marine Sanctuary on the north shore of Oahu lost over 80% of its corals since 2012 and the Navy is doing its electronic war testing right off shore! But Maui did not loose near as much coral in that same time frame and the Navy is not testing off of Maui.

Just connect the dots and give a warm welcome to our new coral neighbours! I know I have not 100% proven my theory that the US military killed much of our coral reefs along the north shore of Kauai from 2012 to 2016 but I feel I have enough data to win in court over the issue. Remember it is not legal to kill a coral reef here in Hawaii especially when it is habitat for the endangered monk seal and green sea turtle!


Terry Lilley
Marine Biologist
Hanalei, Kauai
All Photographs  © 2016 Terry Lilly


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