In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Behind the Glass: A look at caring for animals at Maui Ocean Center

An inside look at the dedication and passion that goes into caring for the animals at Maui aquarium

Sponsored by Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center is putting HI Now host Jobeth Devera to work by cleaning an exhibit, prepping food and assisting with feeding the animals on her journey to becoming an aquarist! She takes us on an exclusive, inside look at the dedication and passion that goes into caring for the animals at Maui Ocean Center. From food prep to exhibit maintenance and everything in between, Maui Ocean Center’s curatorial team is constantly at work behind-the-scenes to provide the best care for the marine animals and a well-kept park for aquarium guests.

What is a curator? Head Curator Jim Luecke says it’s a caretaker of exhibits responsible for animal husbandry, exhibit maintenance & upkeep. The curatorial team at Maui Ocean Center is made of divers who typically work in the larger exhibits and aquarists who handle all general duties.

During the behind-the-scenes tour, Luecke showed off the Center’s filtration system and explained how it pumps 1.2 million gallons of water per day. The water goes through an intensive filtration processes before discharging back into the ocean. This allows for pristine water quality in exhibits and the discharge has proven to help with water quality issues in Ma’alaea Bay.

Luecke also shared food prep practices for the animals. “We feed the animals restaurant-quality seafood,” said Luecke. “We keep a wide variety of food to ensure a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.” One of those meals made specifically for turtles is called Turtle Gel. It’s made using a mixture of blended cucumbers, carrots, spinach, broccoli with spirulina (a form of algae) and gelatin to hold it together.

They also use different feeding methods for fish. Broadcast feeding is dropping food at the surface, while target feeding is physically putting food in front of specific animals. The Center also conducts a broadcast feeding with sharks and explained techniques they use to avoid conditioning sharks from associating humans with food.

For more information:
Facebook: @MauiOceanCenter
Instagram: @MauiOceanCenter
Twitter: @MauiOceanCenter