Hanauma Bay located within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is one of the most famous and popular visitor destinations in all of Hawaiʻi. During normal times, Hanauma Bay attracts over over three million visitors per year and suffers greatly from overuse. Hanauma is both a Nature Preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District (the first of several established in the State of Hawaiʻi). Visitors are required by law to refrain from mistreating marine animals or from touching and walking on the coral reefs.
However, since March 2020, the Bay has been closed to all public uses. This has allowed researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology to study the impact of humans on the park’s diverse marine life. Join the institute's Sara Severino as she discusses what researchers have learned so far and how these data can add to our knowledge of what happens to marine protected areas when human uses are taken out of the equation.