Reef aid
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Reef aid

Researchers converge on a shallow coral reef off Oahu that has been smothered by an invasive algae. The algae was brought in during the 1970s by a professor who was experimenting to help Third World nations develop aquaculture industries. (Kenneth R. Weiss / Los Angeles Times)
Divers feed seaweed into the Super Sucker hose. The vacuum scoops up about 800 pounds of algae an hour, it doesn’t damage any animals inadvertently caught, and it doesn’t chop the algae into bits (which would just reseed the reef). (Kenneth R. Weiss / Los Angeles Times)
Smothering algae forms mats that can be feet thick. The overgrowth shades coral reefs — colonies of tiny animals that need sunlight. Algae covers at least half the reefs in Kaneohe Bay. (Kenneth R. Weiss / Los Angeles Times)
Cynthia Hunter, a biology professor at the University of Hawaii, sifts through algae brought aboard by the Super Sucker. Any animals that were sucked up are returned to the reef. (Kenneth R. Weiss / Los Angeles Times)
A sea turtle glides through the water in Kaneohe Bay. Half a dozen types of invasive algae have been taking over the coral reefs in the bay, threatening habitat for wildlife. (Kenneth R. Weiss / Los Angeles Times)