The largest single area dedicated to conservation in the United States, and one of the largest in the world, the Papahanaumokuakea 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 has begun work on a new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit, which will feature a living reef ecosystem representative of that found in the world’s most isolated islands.

“With a mission to inspire and promote understanding, appreciation and conservation of Pacific marine life, it is only fitting that the Waikiki Aquarium would dedicate resources to develop a world-class exhibit to bring the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the people,” said Director Andrew Rossiter, Ph.D. “Many of the species that will be on display are abundant around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but are extremely rare or absent around the Main Hawaiian 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. Interactive touch screens associated with the exhibit will provide additional information on the significance of the islands, their ecology and biopersity, and the importance of preserving this almost pristine marine ecosystem for future generations.

The new $300,000 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit is slated to open in late spring 2011. Until then, a portion of the Aquarium’s Gallery 4 will be closed for construction. The new exhibit is being developed in partnership and with support from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National
Monument.

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