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Hawaii News Now - May 11, 2023

Seven years from now, nearly 90% of Hanauma Bay’s sandy area could be underwater, according to a new University of Hawai`i study on sea level rise.

Researchers from UH Manoa’s Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology evaluated Hanauma Bay for five years.

They predict 88% of its sandy area will be underwater by 2030 when it’s high tide.

“Hawai`i is the state of all states that really needs to be most concerned and start taking action for climate change impacts,” said Ku`ulei Rodgers, researcher of the Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology’s Coral Reef Ecology.

Since reopening after a nine-month pandemic closure, Hanauma Bay is kept closed twice a week. The city has also implemented a reservation system that cuts the daily capacity to 1,400, nearly half of what it was before.

Andrew Graham, graduate student of HIMB’ Coral Reef Ecology, said last year there were six days in the summer months when the highest king tides happened.

In the near future, he said, those high tide days will likely cut capacity at the beach.

“If they didn’t close on those days, they could reduce the number of daily visitors on those days, or people could be relocated onto the grass,” said Graham.

Nathan Serota, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the city continues to find a balance between preserving the area and maintaining its cultural and recreational use. They’ve begun using sea mattresses and doing restoration projects in other communities, but they’re also working on long-term solutions.