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This research focuses on coral reef health in the South Pacific region, an area of high global coral diversity. Coral reef health surrounding two study sites in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, has been assessed in areas that have not been previously surveyed. Each study site has distinct differences based upon marine management practices. Marine management practices are identified and described and some historical rea- sons as why they exist are discussed. Data are also presented on the ecological condition (coral coverage, number of coral species, clonal condition, disease, and presence and absence of bioindicators). This interdisciplinary research methodology includes both ecological and social data collection to further understand human– environment interactions. In comparing the reefs with different management practices, I argue that the implementation of traditional marine social institutions as exemplified in this case study of the Ra’ui in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, is an effective conservation management tool and is improving coral reef health. The Ra’ui site has significantly higher species diversity/Mortality Index (F = 2.63).