The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it is suing the Trump administration for failing to protect cauliflower coral around the Hawaiian Islands.

“The bushy, shallow-water coral species has been devastated by ocean warming triggered by human-caused climate change,” according to a press release.

The warming is due to a “marine heat wave … now hitting Hawaii’s coral reefs hard, and researchers predict massive coral bleaching and death.”

The coral species is estimated to have declined by 36% from 1999 to 2012, and conditions are expected to worsen.

Cauliflower coral, French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Flickr: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarter

“Cauliflower coral is like the canary in the coal mine of our warming oceans. Marine life around Hawaii will suffer without bold actions to protect coral reefs,” said Maxx Phillips, the center’s Hawaii director. “Hawaii’s coral reefs are dying and they need our help. Letting colorful corals bleach white and die indicates an ocean becoming less bountiful and biodiverse.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Hawaii. According to the press release, it challenges the National Marine Fisheries Service’s “failure to act on a petition to protect cauliflower coral under the Endangered Species Act.”

The fisheries service said last year listing may be warranted, but failed to follow up, prompting the center to issue a notice letter in May.

Civil Beat left a phone message with the NMFS Honolulu office seeking comment.

Cauliflower coral is called Ko’a in the Hawaiian language.

Read Civil Beat’s related story, Record Heat Thrusts Hawaii Corals Into ‘New Era’ Of Bleaching.

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