The Waikiki Aquarium, a marine science institutions
in Hawai‘i was established March 19, 1904 and is the
third oldest public aquarium in the United States. Situated
beside a living coral reef on the Waikiki shoreline, the aquarium
is home to more than 2,500 organisms and 420 different species
of marine plants and animals. Each year, more than 350,000
Visitors to the Waikiki Aquarium can view a startling variety
of marine life from the tropical Pacific area and the Hawaiian
Islands. The aquarium is especially proud of its reputation for
excellence in coral reef exhibits, and it offers up-close experiences
of reef sharks, living corals, endangered Hawaiian monk seals,
graceful sea jellies, myriads of colorful reef fish, and much,
While the aquarium offers a variety of marine life exhibits that
appeal to ocean lovers, it has also carved a niche as a vital
marine research and education center. One of its more unique
activities is raising moi. The moi are donated to the aquarium
from a state fishery for them to raise for stock enhancement.
The aquarium keeps the moi for one to two years depending on
how big they are when they get them. After that, they are returned
to the state fishery that either sells, or uses them to reproduce.
The moi are kept in a doughnut-shaped tank with air in the middle
where they used to keep the mahi-mahi hatchery. It’s necessary
for the moi to constantly be swimming in circles. While the moi
are a fisherman’s delight, they’re also a favorite
item served on Island menus.
Other exhibits include giant clams and new species of jellyfish.
All the exhibitions are open to both natural and artificial light.
The aquarium has a variety of educational programs that are open
to the public. Its “Aquarium After Dark” program,
offered about once a month, allows guests to tour the different
exhibits at night. The tour starts out in the classroom with
a slide show of animals visitors will eperience on a flashlight
tour that targets fishes that are nocturnal, or daytime fish
that have extraordinary nocturnal habits.
Two other programs offered are “Exploring the Reef,” “By
Day” and “By Night.” The daytime one spotlights
the Hawaiian shoreline in reef flat and tidepool habitats. Visitors
view three different tide pool locations: Kewalo Basin by Ala
Moana, Ma‘ili Point on O‘ahu’s west coast,
and the Makapu‘u tide pool near Sea Life Park on the Windward
Exploring the Reef by Night” visits the reef life off Waikiki
Beach. Participants go out into the knee-high water and pick
out different types of fish that they think are cool. Divers
also go out and grab different types of species for people to
The Waikiki Aquarium is located in Queen Kapiolani Park, at 2777
Kalakaua Ave. It’s open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission rates
are $9 for visitors; $6 for local residents, active duty military
with ID, students with ID, and senior citizens; $4 for youths
The outdoor tanks include a selection of tropical fishes and
starfishes for visitors to hold. Visitors are also able to
view sea lions and watch them being fed by the caretakers.
Photo by Susie Lin