The Waikiki Aquarium has been a bleeding edge aquarium institution in the world for the better part of a decade. We aquarists have revered and longed to see this world-famous display of marine life in Hawaii ever since it was one of the first to grow the bejeezus out of stony corals, and especially for the extra large and long lived Tridacna gigas giant clams that it had on display for more than 30 years.
We’ve celebrated the extremely long life of their ‘oldest giant clam’ in captivity and just earlier this year we raved about their exquisite black and yellow superstar reef fish, the Abei angelfish and the Smithi butterflyfish. Alas, rumors we heard recently about the demise of not just one of their decades-old giant clams have recently been confirmed, a tragedy no matter the cause, but the reaction of current director Dr. Andrew Rossiter is quite alarming.
As we all know, corals, fish, and even giant clams don’t just die for no reason, yet in recent months the Waikiki has lost two giant clams, three leafy seadragons, and yet it appears that the director isn’t really taking these losses seriously. Rossiter states “the corals in the tank are fine, the fish are fine. It was just those two clams. Bizarre.” Anyone who’s ever worked at a retail aquarium store will recognize this kind of dismissive behavior, the self-denial that aquarium keepers sometimes have when they come in to the store to find out about animals that died, yet insisting that their water tests are “perfect”.
There is always a reason that animals perish in our aquariums, and it is our duty to find out why each and every time so as to learn from our mistakes,a and prevent it from happening again. In the case of the Waikiki Aquarium, losing one clam can be considered an accident, but losing two decades-old Gigas clams within days is not a coincidence, and former directors Bruce Carlson and Leighton Taylor also seem to think that things could be better at the Waikiki Aquarium. We are not harping on the losses of the recent iconic animals at the Waikiki Aquarium, those creatures served a very important purpose to educate the public about the oceans for many years, but the reaction that “everything is fine” is definitely not going to serve their display animals well if there isn’t some kind of course correction in the near future. [Hawaii News]