Guests at the Maui Ocean Center recently witnessed a coral spawning event, one of nature's rarest phenomena. Guests attended the event Incredible Corals: Night at the Reef .
Rice corals in the aquarium's exhibits released an ascending flood of gametes (bundles of egg and sperm) into the water column, and the remainder of Hawaii's rice colonies closed in a spawning event that occurs only once a year.
Rice coral ( Montipora capitata ) is one of 40 Hawaiian coral species under the care and typical breed of Maui Ocean Center a few days after the summer new moon phase. The annual event Incredible Corals: Night at the Reef focuses on this predicted date, bringing Hawaiis coral experts, residents and visitors together for a night devoted to coral reefs and animals calling it home.
As the day turned into a starlit sky, guests explored the aquarium to learn more about coral while watching the unique behavior of nocturnal animals. Oceanographers held coral stations with live microscopic views of coral predators, reef etiquette information, and a build-a-polyp sample for Keiki. Keynote Speaker Dave Gulko, coral biologist from the Department of Aquatic Resources of the State of Hawaii, shared his years of expertise in a presentation on coral biology and reproduction.
Coral shows were fun for children and children. Renowned singer and pianist Louise Lambert led a children's sing-along-sea-songs activity, while astronomer Rakhal Kincaid explored the stars with guests using a range of high-powered telescopes. The evening ambience was enhanced with live music from Maui's ascending star Anthony Pfluge.
Maui Ocean Center was attended by special guests, including representatives of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Tommy Cutt, Executive Director of the Maui Ocean Center Marine, Institute (MOCMI). NOAA used a diving robot in the Discovery Pool to stream live video of coral spawning activities. Tommy Cutt hosted an information booth to highlight MOCMI's latest developments, traineeship program and volunteer opportunities. MOCMI's mission is to create lifelong environmental responsibility and to ensure the survival of coral reefs and sea turtles in Hawaii through science-based conservation efforts, education and public relations .