Become part of Hawaii’s conservation story

Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott was an educator and ethnobotanist from Hawaii. She was the first native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in science, and became the leading expert on Pacific algae.

Please join us as we celebrate Dr. Abbott's birthday and help in rehabilitating this iconic Hawaiian landmark – Waikiki Beach!!


Several species of alien algae have become established on Hawaii’s reefs, and have contributed towards the decline of some reef areas. One such area is the reef fronting the Aquarium, and here efforts have been underway since 2002 to remove these alien species and to restore the reef to its natural condition. Driven by Dr. Celia Smith and her students at the University of Hawaii’s Department of Botany, this Waikiki Aquarium/Botany Department collaboration is a community-oriented project that seeks to remove the alien algae from the reef ecosystem by picking them from the substrate and loading them onshore. Care is taken that any native species inadvertently collected by volunteers is returned to the ocean. The alien algae are weighed, to assess both the scale of the challenge and the effectiveness of the removal efforts, and transported to Honolulu Zoo. There the algae are added to the Zoo’s compost pile, which is used to fertilize the plants on the Zoo grounds and available for public use. At each cleanup, volunteers numbers range from 25 to 90 and represent individuals from throughout the community. All ages are welcome, however minors should be accompanied by an adult at all times.


Cleanups start around 9am and have a soft ending about 11 - 11:30. 

* We ask volunteers to arrive at 8:45am to check-in. 

Meet by the big Banyan tree behind the back fence of the aquarium (Natatorium side). Look for the tables set up and group gathered. Volunteers can leave backpacks/equipment/etc. along the fence. Do not bring valuables.

Parking can be found around Kapiolani Park or at the Natatorium (not in the Aquarium’s lot). 

Meters begin at 10am and are .50/hr. 

Outline of activities: 

  • About 9 am we start with an introduction and overview of the native limu and alien seaweeds for the assembled group of volunteers.
  • We load burlap bags/Buckets into big wheeled trashcans and use the ramp to bring algae up from the reef 
  • Once at the sidewalk level, we let the algae drain for about 5 minutes and then sort the biomass 
  • Invasive biomass is then weighed and weight recorded. 
  • Weighed biomass is dumped into the back of a truck parked nearby at the cul de sac, by the banyan 
  • Once filled, the truck goes across the street to the zoo, and biomass is added to their compost pile 

There are of jobs for people who don't want to get wet - they can help with bringing up the biomass, sorting, and dumping it in the truck. 

What to Bring: 

Volunteers will want to bring their own tabis or reef shoes, gloves, and even water gear - goggles, mask fins snorkels, towels and sunblock...but, you don't have to go in the water- there are jobs on 'land'.


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