Director of Waikiki Aquarium Announces Resignation

University of Hawaiʻi
Shawn Nakamoto, (808) 956-9095
Director of Public Relations
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Feb 26, 2002

HONOLULU — Waikīkī Aquarium Director Dr. Bruce Carlson today announced his resignation from the Waikīkī Aquarium effective April 30, 2002, to take on a new position as Vice President for Life Sciences at the new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Carlson presided over the most significant growth and improvements at the Waikīkī Aquarium in its 98-year history. During his tenure, Carlson succeeded in bringing to Hawaiʻi several unique marine life species such as living corals, chambered nautilus, giant clams and cuttlefish that had never been seen in any aquarium in the United States. These exhibits brought national and international attention to the Waikīkī Aquarium, and ultimately the highest award given by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association when the Aquarium succeeded in breeding the chambered nautilus.

In addition, Carlson increased the Aquarium‘s annual budget of about $1 million in state appropriations to more than $2 million, most of which is earned through admission fees. Through these earned revenues, he also expanded the program by creating 25 new positions at the Aquarium.

"Bruce Carlson has been a tremendous asset to the University. His management of the Waikīkī Aquarium over the past 15 years has seen us through a number of challenging times for the facility and left us with a strong vision of how the University may proceed in the development of a public-focused ocean research center," said UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor Deane Neubauer. "We wish Bruce the best in his new position as Vice President for Life Sciences at the new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta."

Carlson joined the Waikīkī Aquarium in 1976 under the University of Hawaiʻi student employment program. He assumed the role of acting director in 1986 when his predecessor, Dr. Leighton Taylor, resigned. In 1990, the University of Hawaiʻi officially appointed him director.

"Working at the Waikīkī Aquarium has been the most rewarding and exciting job anyone could hope for, and I have had the opportunity to work with many great and talented people at the Aquarium, as well as on campus, and throughout the community," said Carlson.

Dr. Cynthia Hunter, aquarium curator, will serve as interim acting director.

Administered by the University of Hawaiʻi, the Waikīkī Aquarium is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States. Home to more than 2,000 animals representing 400 species, the Aquarium is committed to building awareness, appreciation, and conservation of the aquatic life of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. The Waikīkī Aquarium is a member of the Coastal America Partnership that brings together national leadership, regional planning and local action to preserve the nation‘s coastal environments. The Aquarium was designated as a Coastal America Ecosystem Learning Center in March 2000.