Marine Biology

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 269–276 | Cite as

Impact of a kaolin clay spill on a coral reef in Hawaii

  • S. J. Dollar
  • R. W. Grigg


On April 27, 1980, the Greek freighter “Anangel Liberty” went aground on the reef at French Frigate Shoals, a National Wildlife Refuge in the Hawaiian Islands. The vessel was refloated with no major damage or fuel spillage after 2 200 tons (2 200 000 kg) of koalin cargo had been jettisoned on the reef. Huge plumes of suspended clay raised major concern over the possibility of widespread ecological damage. However, field investigations conducted 14 d after the kaolin was dumped revealed that environmental impact waw very minor and highly localized; it was evident that most of the kaolin had been suspended and removed from the area. The only significant damage was a 2 to 3 m deep channel plowed through the reef by the freighter. Within 50 m of both sides of the channel, some coral was smothered and colonies of Pocillopora spp. were alive but slightly bleached. Beyond 50 m there were no apparent impact, nor did any clay settle on the bottom. This incident illustrates that some events which initially appear to have potential pollutant impact do not produce significant and irreversible environmental changes and emphasizes the need to analyze such events on a case-by-case basis.


Clay Coral Reef Bleached Kaolin Significant Damage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Dollar
    • 1
  • R. W. Grigg
    • 1
  1. 1.Hawaii Institute of Marine BiologyKaneoheUSA

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