Protecting the ‘Opihi

‘Opihi, a species of limpet, are a delicacy in Hawai‘i. Three species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, found nowhere else in the world. Overharvesting in the main Hawaiian Islands has put ‘opihi at risk – but in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, ‘opihi abound.

For nine years, researchers have been traveling to the monument to monitor ‘opihi populations and other rocky intertidal organisms. The monitoring expeditions integrate Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge and practices with Western science to assess and better understand the shorelines and shallow waters of high islands within the monument. This research is led by members of the ‘Opihi Partnership, a public-private collaborative consortium that provides information to improve management of harvesting intertidal species in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Images: Members of a collaborative monitoring expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument assess ‘opihi populations.

women examining a rock with many opihi attached

Photo: Hoku Johnson/NOAA

a hand holding many opihi

Photo: NOAA


Photo: NOAA