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Maui Ocean Center to host Coral Spawning Spectacle

By Staff | Jul 28, 2011

Rice coral spawns at Maui Ocean Center. Photo by Pauline-Fiene.

MAALAEA — Explore the mysterious world of coral reproduction and get a chance to witness live coral spawning during the Coral Spawning Spectacle on Tuesday, Aug. 2, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Maui Ocean Center.

This highly anticipated summer aquarium event takes place under the light of a new moon and gives guests the remarkable opportunity to learn about and observe live coral spawning.

Several exhibits throughout the park, including the Discovery Pool, Surge Zone and candlelit Living Reef, will include rice coral and be illuminated with special red lights to enhance chances for spawning.

Guests may mingle with Maui Ocean Center’s naturalists and curatorial staff while waiting for the rice coral to spawn. Complimentary desserts and coffee, along with a cash bar, will be available.

Expert guest speaker Pauline Fiene will provide an in-depth discussion on coral and coral reefs and expand on the phenomenon of coral spawning.

Fiene has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and has studied Hawaiian marine life for over 20 years, documenting more than 60 new species of opisthobranchs in Hawaii and the Indo-Pacific.

A special underwater robotic camera from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be in the Discovery Pool during the event, sending back live imaging of coral spawning. Footage from previous coral spawning events will also be shown throughout the evening.

Admission is $27 for adults and $22 for children age 3-12 with discounts for members and kama’aina.

Advance reservations are required, as space is limited. To register, call 270-7088.

A portion of the proceeds from the Coral Spawning Spectacle will be donated to Project S.E.A.-Link, a local nonprofit organization that promotes marine science, education and awareness by providing a link between students, teachers, scientists, the local community, the general public, other nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Corals spawn in response to multiple environmental, biological and physical cues. While live coral spawning is expected to occur on Aug. 2, it is not guaranteed.