Learn about pioneering research during Coral Spawning Night - Maui Ocean Center

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Learn about pioneering research during Coral Spawning Night

June 28, 2024

June 28, 2024, MĀʻALAEA, MAUI, HI – Maui Ocean Center will host its annual Coral Spawning Night from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 6. Not only will guests have the chance to witness the phenomenon of coral spawning, but they can also learn about some pioneering coral research currently underway.

A variety of activities, including a coral feeding station, will be featured along with diver presentations in the aquarium’s 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit. Inside the Sphere Theater, scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), based in Cape Cod, Mass., will discuss their research on the use of sound as an effective tool to create healthy coral reefs.

WHOI researchers from the Institution’s Reef Solutions Initiative are currently conducting experiments with five coral species at Maui Ocean Center’s coral nursery. They are placing corals in special sound-dampened tanks and then using underwater speakers to play the sounds of thriving coral reefs — recorded both on Maui’s South Shore as well as the Caribbean — to see if it helps promote coral larvae settlement, potentially serving as a solution to help rebuild degraded or damaged reefs.

In addition to Maui Ocean Center, WHOI is partnering with the state’s Division of Aquatic ResourcesThe Nature Conservancy and NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to conduct its research — the first tests of such kind for Pacific corals.

“We plan to return next summer and use findings from our controlled research in the lab to inform the design of field experiments here on Maui,” said Nadege Aoki, a WHOI marine biologist and co-author on a recently published study about the use of healthy reef sounds to promote new growth. Aoki is one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Coral Spawning Night.

During the event, rice coral spawning stations will be setup throughout the aquarium. Coral spawning, or reproduction, coincides with the lunar cycle and the Coral Spawning Night will take place during the new moon. Marine naturalists will be on hand with flashlights to point out any spawning to guests. While coral spawning is expected to occur, it’s not always guaranteed due to environmental variables.

Maui Ocean Center exhibits one of the largest displays of living, rare and endemic Hawaiian corals in the world. In addition to coral-related speakers and activities, Coral Spawning Night will feature live music and food and drinks will be available at Reef Café. Tickets are $25 for ages 4 and older (ages 3 and younger are free along with aquarium members). Ten percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute for local coral restoration projects. Get tickets now at mauioceancenter.com/reservations/