Maui Ocean Center names new education director - Maui Ocean Center

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Maui Ocean Center names new education director

March 25, 2024

March 21, 2024, MĀʻALAEA, MAUI, HI – Tiara Fernandez, who began her career at Maui Ocean Center as an intern nearly 10 years ago, has been named the aquarium’s new Director of Education.


While studying marine biology at Hawaiʻi Pacific University, Fernandez completed her internship in the summer of 2014 before becoming a marine naturalist, then head naturalist and now education director. She has curated a variety of outreach programs and hopes to launch a limu tour in which guests can touch and even taste underwater plants.


“I enjoy educating Maui Ocean Center’s guests, especially when I’m sharing our message of ocean conservation,” Fernandez said. “I find it really rewarding when we can change someone’s perspective, whether it’s teaching them about the importance of sharks in the marine ecosystem or how coral is a living animal.”


Her promotion has paved the way for Sara Peyton to become head naturalist. Peyton, a marine naturalist for the past two years, helped curate Maui Ocean Center’s new Hawaiian Culture and Botanical Tour.


Her favorite part of the job? “Everyone we work with is so passionate, motivated and enthusiastic,” Peyton said.


In addition to the botanical tour, which is held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, marine naturalists lead Behind the Scenes Tours starting at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.


Daily naturalist-led presentations include Dive Link at 11 a.m., which involves talking with a diver inside the aquarium’s 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit, as well as educational talks at Turtle Lagoon at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.


For tickets to Maui Ocean Center, or to book a tour, visit Those interested in joining Maui Ocean Center’s education team, either as a marine naturalist or intern, can email Fernandez at

Tiara Fernandez (above) makes poi as part of Maui Ocean Center’s Hawaiian Culture and Botanical Tour, while Sara Peyton (below) holds a papa ku’i ‘ai (poi pounding board) used during the tour. The botanical tour is held each Tuesday and Thursday morning.