Humans seem to have a particular fascination with the underwater world. Whether it be the timeless love for The Little Mermaid, the invention of scuba diving, or fishing fanatics, we seem to be consistently curious with what's under the ocean. Thanks to the latest display at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, visitors and locals alike have another opportunity to get a peak under the sea.
Unveiled in August of 2011, the aquarium's new Northwestern Hawaiian Island exhibit offers a look at the rarely seen remote atolls, shoals and reefs found about 1,200 northwest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands. One of the most remote areas on earth, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands extend about 1,200 square miles northwest of the main islands and cover about 140,000 square miles. The islands are part of the Hawaiian archipelago and consists of dozens of small islands, atolls, shoals and coral reefs that are home to over 7,000 marine species of which a fourth are found nowhere else on earth.
Albatross population at the monument — Photo courtesy of NOAA Andy Collins
The islands became the The U.S.'s largest conservation area, a United States Marine National Monument called Papahanaumokuakea in 2006, and received the Hawaiian name in 2007. The long name is a tribute to the genealogy of the Native Hawaiian people and to the formation of all of the Hawaiian Islands.
Because Papahanaumokuakea is only only open to Hawaiian cultural practitioners, jurisdictional agencies and research and educational groups, the new aquarium display offers the rest of us a look at something we would never have a chance to see without it.
Green Sea Turtles at the monument — Photo courtesy of NOAA Andy Collins
At the aquarium visitors can view the 12-foot long and five-foot high display tank, that is about 9 feet wide in areas and holds about 4,500 gallons of water. The tank took a year to build was completed in mid 2011. The staff at the aquarium has been slowly building the population to avoid stressing out the fish, and by April it's expected that there will be over 200 fish from 40 different species, as well as 30 species of coral.