Project Report PR-97-03
A Survey of Selected Coral and Fish Assemblages Near the Waianae Ocean Outfall, Oahu, Hawaii, 1996
Anthony R. Russo
In 1996, coral growth and fish abundance were monitored at stations located at and in the vicinity of the Waianae Ocean Outfall. Comparisons of results with fish surveys done in previous years showed no significant differences in the species composition or relative abundances of fish populations at Station W-2 (the sunken ship Mahi), which is located 1.2 km south of the diffuser. Fish abundance and species richness increased at Station W-3, which is located at the diffuser, from 1990 to 1995 and decreased in 1996. At Station WW, an inshore station located 0.8 km from shore, fish were abundant and speciose on the armor rock covering the pipeline. The fish species seen inshore are comparable to fish species seen in similar (boulder) natural biotopes around Hawaii. There were no significant differences in total mean coral cover at selected quadrats from 1994 to 1996 at Station W-2. However, there was a significant increase (8%) in total mean coral cover at this station from 1991 to 1996. At the diffuser, corals were seen growing on the diffuser pipe and on the riser discharge ports. In 1986, when the diffuser began operation at a discharge rate of 1.5 mgd (0.07 m3/s), no corals were seen at this location. At inshore station WW corals off the pipeline were sparsely distributed but were numerous and thriving on the armor rock over the pipeline. The inshore transect (Alpha), off the armor rock, was covered (more than 40%) with the alga Dictyopteris plagiogramma. This seaweed was also seen at this location in 1994 and 1995. The water was clear at all stations surveyed (10 to 15 m horizontal visibility), and the surrounding sediments were clean and white. No significant deleterious effect due to outfall operation and discharge were seen on the biological community at the stations surveyed. The decrease in fish diversity and abundance at the diffuser may be due to natural fluctuations in fish abundance. To distinguish between outfall effects and natural fish population fluctuation patterns, several years of consecutive monitoring must be performed.