Waikiki Aquarium curator collects exotic species for all to see

Published: Nov. 13, 2011 at 8:04 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM HST
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WAIKIKI - (HawaiiNewsNow) - Groups of young minds marvel at life from the deep at the new Waikiki Aquarium Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit.

The exhibit displays unique sea life found in the protected waters of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. "The main goal is to bring back animals that you're not going to see snorkeling or diving around the main Hawaiian islands." said Rick Klobuchar The acting curator at the Aquarium.

"99.9% of the people living in Hawaii and even worldwide aren't ever going to get to see this monument." he explained. The new feature holds fish that aren't quite so easy to acquire.

"It'd be great if we could just check a list of fish that we get." he said.

To get these uncommon specimens Rick Klobuchar must go get them himself.

We voyaged hundreds of miles northwest with Rick aboard the NOAA research vessel Hiialakai. At each one of the unique dive sites rick only has a small window of time to search and locate the species he needs to collect. "You're kind of under a time crunch because you only have so much air in your tank." he said. "To be able to do it in person and see the area where these animals live and the interactions with the reef around them, it helps us to create a better exhibit." he further explained.

His method for retrieval is simple, he uses nest to corral fish into a holding tub and for coral he uses a small geological pick like a hammer and a small chisel.

On one dive he collected and explains to us his finds, "These are the size fragments that we're taking off the bottom, just a few inches. we're not taking a colony."

He then preps his collection for the return voyage. He stores the fish in filtered water coolers and ties off each delicate coral and hangs them individually on a handmade trellis so they float freely but secure within another water filled cooler. 'Keeps them from bumping the bottom and messing up the coral bumping into each other." he says.

After  quarantine, Klobuchar adds the seldom seen fish to the exhibit then fits the diverse coral  collection and others to their new home where they can grow up to three meters wide.

These and more of his rare discoveries now live permanently on display for the world to see at the new exhibit.

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