Waikiki Aquarium

From Academic Kids

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The Waikīkī Aquarium is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States.

The Waikīkī Aquarium is one of the premier marine science institutions in the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawai'i. Founded on March 19, 1904, this marine aquarium is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States. Since 1919, the Waikīkī Aquarium has been an institution of the University of Hawai'i System.

Situated beside a living coral reef on the Waikīkī shoreline, the Waikīkī Aquarium is home to more than 2,500 organisms of 420 species of marine plants and animals. Each year, over 350,000 people visit. The Waikīkī Aquarium was designated a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center of the Coastal America Partnership federal program.



The Waikīkī Aquarium was established by the Honolulu Rapid Transit Authority, a forerunner of the present-day O'ahu Transit Services, Inc. It was hoped that the aquarium would entice travellers to ride the trolley all the way to the end of the line at Queen Kapi'olani Park where the Waikīkī Aquarium is located.

Considered a state-of-the-art scientific institution at the time of its opening, William Jennings Bryan and Jack London traveled to Honolulu to see the Waikīkī Aquarium first hand. Renowned biologist David Starr Jordan proclaimed the Waikīkī Aquarium to have the finest collection of fishes in the world


Waikiki Aquarium
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Seal of the University of Hawai'i System

The aquarium live fish gathering business in Hawaii has had a long, controversial history. In 1973, community worries over collecting actions were first handled by the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources by requiring monthly collection information. Increases in fish gathering united with growing public perception of declining fish supply ultimately developed into a harsh numerous use of disagreement between fish collectors and the dive tour industry.

In reply to declines in reef fishes due to aquarium collectors, the Hawaii State Legislature, in the course of Act 306, formed the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area in 1998 to advance management of fishery resources. The projected management plan received 93% support at a public hearing and was then approved by the Governor (Tissot 175).

Development and Conditions

The Waikiki Aquarium developed displays of living corals starting in the middle to late 1970s. These aquarium structures were reliant on a permanent provision of seawater and therefore the aquarium seawater situation was not so different than the ones on the reef.

Living corals are more complex to sustain in aquariums than most marine fish. Aquarists must be more aware of the physical, chemical and natural necessities of corals if they hope to accomplish success. Lighting, water chemistry, water motion, and temperature are the main features of concern to aquarists preserving living corals (Carlson 44).


Tissot Brian N. Walsh William J. Hallacher Leon E. (April 2004). “Evaluating effectiveness of a marine protected area network in West Hawaii to increase productivity of an aquarium fishery”. Pacific Science, v58 i2 p175.

Carlson Bruce A. (Feb 1999). “Organism responses to rapid change: what aquaria tell us about nature”. American Zoologist, v39 i1 p44.

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