Since its founding in 1904 and becoming the first marine field station in Hawai`i in 1912, the Waikiki Aquarium has been fostering awareness and promoting stewardship of the aquatic life of Hawai`i and the tropical Pacific through research and conservation. The 106-year-old University of Hawaii facility boasts several ongoing research projects that have been designed to restore, protect and manage native Hawaiian species as well as other threatened or endangered species.
The Waikiki Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts focus on four key areas:
Much of the Aquarium’s research revolves around the propagation of marine animals, including threatened and endangered Hawaiian corals, the Hawaiian seahorse (<i>Hippocampus</i> sp.), masked angelfish (<i>Genicanthus personatus</i>) and inarticulate brachiopod (<i>Lingula</i> sp.).
Chambered Nautilus and Cephalopod Biology
Through breeding programs, the Waikiki Aquarium is able to reduce its dependence on collecting specimens from the wild, which further strengthens its conservation mission. The Waikiki Aquarium was the first facility in the world to successfully propagate the Chambered Nautilus after constructing special temperature-controlled tanks simulating the Nautilus’ natural habitats.
While the Waikiki Aquarium was the first aquarium in the world to propagate the Chambered Nautilus in 1985, it continues to focus its research efforts on this cephalopod in an effort to unlock the secrets of this “living fossil.” The Aquarium currently features one species of nautilus—and a new research area is on the drawing board.
Monk Seal Research
With fewer than 1,200 remaining in the wild, Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most threatened marine mammals in the world. Hoping to play an important role in the recovery of this species, the Waikiki Aquarium’s current research projects focus on the physiology and thermoregulation of the Aquarium’s two resident monk seals.
Making up one of the most diverse and important habitats on the planets, coral reefs are currently under assault from an array of environmental stresses and human impacts. Research at the Waikiki Aquarium is helping to uncover the secrets of coral biology in order to shed light on these imperiled environments. The Waikiki Aquarium has maintained cultures of living corals since 1978 and now has the oldest and, probably the largest collection of living corals in the United States.
Learn more: http://www.waquarium.org/