Our Open Ocean Exhibit | Maui Ocean Center
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Open Ocean

Venture into the pelagic depths, where the sharks and stingrays dwell!

The Open Ocean Exhibit is home to a stunning variety of sharks and rays found in Hawaiian waters. Inside the exhibit, you’ll find over 50 different species of fish, totaling several hundred individuals. The population is ever-changing as our curatorial team brings in new animals and releases others so visitors can always expect something new during each visit.
The exhibit also features a walkthrough underwater tunnel that allows visitors to feel as though they are surrounded by the ocean. The tunnel offers a 360-degree view, giving you the opportunity to observe marine life from all angles and get an up-close look at the incredible biodiversity of the open ocean.

The Open Ocean Exhibit
The Open Ocean Exhibit
Discovering the Hawaiian Broad Stingray (Lupe)

One notable creature in the exhibit is the Hawaiian broad stingray, also known as “lupe” in Hawaiian. These stingrays have a unique body shape and are bottom dwellers. They use their fins to glide across the sand and their mouths underneath to sift through sediment for food. Their eyes on top help them stay alert for predators.

Stingrays have an intriguing respiratory system that sets them apart from other marine animals. They breathe through spiracles, located on the top of their bodies, which pump oxygenated water over their gills. A fascinating feature of stingrays is their barb, filled with a toxin that serves as their primary defense mechanism. While often misunderstood, it’s important to note that stingrays are generally docile creatures that prefer to avoid confrontation.

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Shark (Manō) Exhibit

Within the Open Ocean exhibit, a diverse array of sharks can be found, each with its unique markings and characteristics. From the sandbar shark (Manō) with its prominent dorsal fins to the gray reef shark with its charcoal gray margin on the caudal fin, and the blacktip reef shark (Manō Pā‘ele) with its distinct black-tipped fins, visitors can marvel at the remarkable diversity of these apex predators. The exhibit also occasionally showcases other species such as tiger sharks (Manō) and hammerheads (Manō Kihikihi), adding an element of excitement to each visit.

Sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems. As apex predators and scavengers, they regulate fish populations and keep the environment clean by targeting weak or dying animals. However, sharks have long suffered from negative media representation, leading to fear and misconceptions. This, in turn, has resulted in retaliatory actions and the unnecessary loss of countless shark lives. Educating the public about the importance of sharks is crucial to their conservation, and aquariums like the Maui Ocean Center are at the forefront of these efforts.

By visiting the Open Ocean exhibit and learning about sharks and rays, visitors become part of the movement to dispel irrational fears and help protect these magnificent creatures. Through education and awareness, we can reshape public perceptions and work towards a future where sharks are revered as vital guardians of our oceans. Aquariums and education centers worldwide are dedicated to this mission, and by supporting their initiatives, we contribute to the preservation of marine life and the health of our oceans.

Discover Maui's Marine Habitat
Invertebrates
Broad Stingray
The broad stingray is found only in Hawaiʻi and Taiwan. Most researchers agree their populations are plentiful. They are one of four species known to inhabit Hawaiian wa...
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Fishes
Blacktip Reef Shark
Of the 40 species of sharks found in Hawai‘i, the blacktip reef shark is among the most common due to the areas it inhabits. The blacktip reef shark prefers shallow ins...
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Giant Trevally
The jacks, or trevally, are a family of strong-swimming predators frequently seen at drop-offs or near reefs. Usually silvery in color, most have streamlined bodies with ...
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