In the Hawaiian worldview, corals are ancestral beings with spiritual energies, which are integrated within the natural environment and wider consciousness. The Kumulipo, a Hawaiian genealogical and evolutional chant, denotes the history of all life forms came and evolved from corals. Thus, the genealogy of the Hawaiian Islands and people begins with the coral polyp.
Today, the coral reefs of Hawaiʻi are valued at ~$33.6 billion via multiple goods and services. Hawaiian coral reefs provide jobs and income to a variety of local industries ranging from fishing (commercial and subsistence) to recreation and tourism. Local economies receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses located near coral reef ecosystems.
Efforts to monitor and protect corals have increased over the last decade as coral reefs have been declining around the globe. Coral diseases are a major threat to reef ecosystems, however most diseases remain poorly understood. Environmental stressors in coastal areas are predicted to intensify, thus it is critical to comprehensively characterize states of reduced health and disease in order to determine how diseases will affect the integrity and function of these ecosystems.
The research methods listed below are utilized in order to study coral disease. These techniques allows researchers to determine how stressors can impact the health of corals.