AIS Team Quarterly Update (2021 Q1)

Posted on Mar 30, 2021 in Main, slider
  • The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) received a report of a non-native species of corallimorph in Honolulu, Oʻahu on July 13, 2020. The corallimorph was identified by a DAR biologist, David Gulko, as Discosoma nummiforme. Discosoma nummiforme was previously found in 1997 and was thought to have been fully eradicated in 2006 in the identified area. With the information provided on July 13, 2020, the Hawaiʻi Coral Restoration Nursery (HCRN) and the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Team conducted surveys on August 4, 2020 at multiple locations. A large colony was identified at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and the AIS Team conducted eradication efforts from September 23, 2020 to October 15, 2020. Colonies of D. nummiforme were covered using a combination of Quikrete, Cement and Two Part Epoxy Compound. The AIS Team continues to monitor the location.


  • The first hatchery-raised sea urchins outplanted in Kāneʻohe Bay are 10-years-old, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) and the State of Hawaiʻi Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) are celebrating the milestone anniversary. The sea urchin hatchery, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DAR, successfully transplanted the first cohort in January 2011 and has since released 600,000 sea urchins across the state. These sea urchins have proven to be incredibly successful at controlling invasive seaweed, a major priority for coral conservation in Hawaiʻi. To date, the sea urchin biocontrol project has treated more than 227 acres of reef in Kāneʻohe Bay, and has recently expanded to the Waikīkī Marine Life Conservation District to control invasive algae.

View Full Story HERE


  • The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Team worked in collaboration with Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC) to bring aquatic invasive species presentations online for Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Awareness Month (HISAM) 2021. AIS team members hosted and moderated the aquatic talks, as well as presenting alongside other DAR staff to educate the public on the importance of aquatic invasive species management.

View Aquatic Talks HERE
View All HISAM Talks (including terrestrial topics) HERE


  • The HISC/CGAPS Aquatic Biosecurity Working Group was led by members of DAR’s AIS team. Team members presented on pre-border and post-border DAR AIS databases, and DAR AIS risk screening protocols. An update on Bishop Museum’s database project was discussed, as well as measures for tracking effectiveness. These topics addressed joint strategy 3: Aquatic Biosecurity key actions 1, 8, and 9 in the HISC & CGAPS Joint 2025 Strategy.


  • DAR’s AIS team provided vessel and diver support to a pilot Avrainvillea erecta control study led by Liv Wheeler, a UH student in Dr. Celia Smith’s lab. This pilot project aims to study possible treatment options for the new introduction that is closely related to invasive leather mud weed, Avrainvillea lacerata. A. erecta was first sighted during a 2014 United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) survey in Honolulu Harbor, and identified by Wade et al. (2018). New sightings confirm its spread from Honolulu Harbor to Waikiki as well as Ewa Beach and on Maui at Kahekili Beach Park. This spread along a shoreline and inter-island, in 6 years represents a significant new threat to coastal health in Hawaiʻi. Management options being explored in this study include physical removal experiments and in situ and chemical application of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).


  • Throughout February and March 2021, there were reports of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), a highly invasive species, attached and inside Marimo moss balls (Aegagropila linnaei) in the continental US. Zebra mussels are typically spread through the vector of recreational freshwater boating, this incident brought to light another potential vector- the aquarium trade. The Marimo moss balls are illegal to import into Hawaii, but the AIS team coordinated a response locally. From March 9th to March 17th, the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program looked into the potential distribution of the invasive zebra mussels via Marimo moss balls by visiting pet and aquarium stores in Oahu, Maui and Kaui. An effort was made to not only survey merchandise, but also talk with employees and distribute information about the recent report. Thankfully, no moss balls were found and the majority of employers were already aware of the import restrictions in the state.


  • The BWBF team hired two UH students to support the ARMS project for the spring semester and two temp hires to support the BWBF team. The third ARMS unit on Oahu was retrieved and UH student hires are currently sorting samples at the Bishop Museum. The team is planning the fourth retrieval for next month. Twenty autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) were deployed throughout the main Hawaiian Islands in July of 2018. ARMS were placed in commercial harbors that included: Nawiliwili, Kauai; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Kalaeloa/Barber’s Point, Oahu; Hilo, Big Island. The goals of the project are to (1) build species checklists and understand what species are present; (2) build voucher collection and DNA barcode reference library; and (3) identify new records of species.


  • In collaboration with CGAPS, DLNR supported the CZM consistency review of EPA Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance. VIDA is a federal statute that creates federal regulations for discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels.


  • The BWBF team is in the last round of edits for the Commercial Fishing Vessel Biofouling Best Practices handout with the Western Regional Panel Coastal Committee, and it will be submitted for approval next month.


  • The AIS team developed an Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK) question guidance SOP and began a UH student pilot study to validate the tool for Hawaii. Developing the risk screening process aids the AIS team in management of species of concern.


  • The BWBF Coordinator joined the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) Working Group for the Pacific Region to address concerns of the possibility of the disease being transported via ballast water and raise awareness in Hawaii.



Want updates on all Hawaii’s Invasive species? 

This update from the AIS Team was provided to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council(HISC) as part of their quarterly newsletter! 

The full newsletter is sent to the HISC email list, and readers can subscribe/unsubscribe at

View Full HISC Newsletters HERE.