Join Gorilla Ogo Survey

By Arleone Dibben-Young

Gorilla Ogo is a mat-forming alien algae (limu or seaweed) capable of outcompeting native corals and smothering coral reef ecosystems. In preparation for its removal from Molokai’s south shore – the longest fringing reef in the U.S. — more than 40 volunteers have worked with the State’s Div. of Aquatic Resources (DAR) over multiple survey events and mapped 31.5 miles of coastline, taking a GPS waypoint every 200’ along the nearshore reef flat, recording the presence and density of three invasive seaweeds, and measuring the depth of sedimentation. Only 4.65 miles in Kaluakoi from Kolo to Hale o Lono remain to be surveyed.

Meet DAR biologists at the Earth Day celebration on April 21 for training for this important field survey scheduled for completion of a survey April 22-24, 6 a.m. til mid-morning or until visibility is decreases by wind disturbance. Volunteers are needed with tabi, snorkel and SCUBA gear, kayaks, shallow draft skiffs, stand-up paddleboards, hand radios, handheld GPS units, etc. Call Arleone for more information 553-5992 or email nene@nene.net.

Gorilla Ogo’s 1946 introduction to the Hawaiian Islands is believed to have been accidental by U.S. war ships returning home after liberating the Philippines on Sept. 2, 1945 from Japanese occupation during World War II. With the region freed, transoceanic shipping increased exponentially, and it is speculated that fouled non-motorized fuel barges towed between the Philippines and Pearl Harbor or Fort Hase (currently Marine Corps Air Station Kane`ohe Bay) were the source.

In 1992, Gorilla Ogo was introduced to Molokai by a University of Arizona Marine Botany Professor for food production experimentation, but due to its slow growth and market impracticality the project was abandoned shortly afterwards. Over the past 25 years the species slowly spread westward along the south shore and now threatens Molokai’s coastal resources utilized for subsistence practices.

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