Friday, June 3, 2011

A countdown to Hawaii: 8 days

Waikiki Aquarium

Looking for something different to do on a warm summer evening? After the beach, stroll on over to the Aquarium with the family. Exhibits will be open, lights will be on and interpreters will be in the galleries all evening, so come at your leisure. Each evening will have a different educational theme relating to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the opening of a new exhibit.

The exhibits at the Waikiki Aquarium highlight the aquatic life of Hawaii and the tropical West & South Pacific. Education and conservation are strongly emphasized in all of the programs. There are six main areas:

The Corals Are Alive area introduces you to some of the builders of the largest living structures on the planet and one of Earth's oldest ecosystems. Hawaiian coral reefs are unique in that they are geologically young reefs and are the most geographically isolated reefs in the world. Also displayed are the corals from the tropical West & South Pacific.

The Galleries at the Aquarium highlight the aquatic communities of the tropical Pacific and Hawaii, the amazing diversity and adaptations of sea creatures from many different habitats, their use and conservation of marine resources, the cultural significance of some animals, and some of the endemic freshwater animals only found in Hawaiian native streams.

The Edge of the Reef exhibit is a 7,500 gallon (28,400 liter) outdoor exhibit that recreates a typical Hawaiian shoreline. Here you can learn about five different types of Hawaiian reef and shore environments, and get eye-to-eye with colorful fish.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of the world's most endangered marine mammals. At their exhibit you have a chance to see and to discover more about these amazing pinnipeds. You can also learn about some of the current monk seal research projects that the Aquarium conducts.

The Ocean Aquaculture exhibit displays the Pacific Six Fingered Threadfin (Polydactylus sexfilis) known locally as "Moi". Its desirability as a popular seafood dish has resulted in a reduction in the number found locally in the wild. Aquaculture efforts are currently being made to help relieve some of this pressure. The Ocean Aquaculture exhibit demonstrates some of the techniques used to successfully rear these fish in captivity from egg to adult. Aquaculture is a viable enterprise and lessens the demand on the marine environment.
The Waikiki Aquarium's conservation ethic runs deep. As one of the first aquariums in the world to display living South Pacific corals, they have a particular interest in the peril that many reefs in the South Pacific now face. The Coral Farm exhibit is a working coral propagation facility enabling them to provide hundreds of coral colonies a year to other aquariums and research institutions. It is hoped that the demand for live corals may eventually be entirely met by "coral farms" and that damaged wild reefs may even be restocked through the efforts of captive propagation.
Within some of their exhibits are animals that are rarely seen by the public or exhibited in aquaria. A visit to the Aquarium gives you a chance to actually see some of these amazing or beautiful creatures and to learn more about them.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Exhibit is the largest single area dedicated to conservation in the United States, and one of the largest in the world, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to over 7,000 marine species, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Offering visitors a nearly once-in-a-lifetime experience to see some of these fishes and corals in their natural habitats, the Waikiki Aquarium’s new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit will feature a living reef ecosystem representative of that found in the world’s most isolated islands.

Among the unique organisms to be featured in the 4,000-gallon public display will be table corals, masked angelfish, yellow barbel goatfish and Japanese pygmy angelfish.  These species are abundant around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but are extremely rare or absent around the Main Hawaiian Islands.  Interactive touch screens associated with the exhibit will provide additional information on the significance of the islands, their ecology and biodiversity, and the importance of preserving this almost pristine marine ecosystem for future generations.

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