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Tropical Fish at the Maui Ocean Center at Ma'alaea

Updated on June 19, 2014

Maui Ocean Center

Coral World International is the anchor for the Maui Ocean Center. This Hawaiian Aquarium is Hawaii's top rated family attraction. Many activities and educational opportunities have arisen out of the presence of Coral World International here on Maui. The company’s website explains that it has two decades of experience in developing and showcasing undersea observatories in the Western Hemisphere and the Red Sea.

There is also a Coral World Marine Park in Australia, Israel, Spain, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands (USA) and here on Maui.

The Maui Ocean Center has not only hundreds of individual fish, but also invertebrates, marine mammals and reptiles.   The saltwater aquarium fish and marine tropical fish are located in 60 exhibits at the Maui Ocean Center.  The center is located at 192 Maalaea Road in Wailuku. 

The invertebrates at the Maui Ocean Center include moon jellies, octopus, oval squid, rice coral, sponges and at least 15 other kinds of invertebrates.  Please have a look at the extensive list on the Maui Ocean Center’s website.

The center also has several kinds of whales and dolphins.  These mammals are an amazing sight to see.  There are spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals and the whales; huge and intelligent.

Did You Know This?

One of the smallest little creatures in one of the tropical fish tanks is the mo o lio. That is the Hawaiian name. He is also known as Fisher’s Seahorse. There are male and female seahorses and all are monogamous for at least one breeding season. Some are monogamous for life. Even more interesting than that, perhaps, is the fact that the males of all seahorse species become pregnant and give birth to a hundred or more baby seahorses.

You can read this information and much more at the Maui Ocean Center’s website.

Mo o lio or Fisher's Seahorse

I took all of these photographs during my last visit to the Maui Ocean Center. You can see the saltwater aquarium fish – all of the marine tropical fish – in the tropical fish tanks and tropical fish aquariums. Many of the exotic tropical fish species glide directly above the visitors’ heads. It's an eerie kind of wonderful. It’s a whole different world when you are looking at aquarium tropical fish – in other words, saltwater fish – from just a few feet from the creatures themselves.

Manta Ray

Manta Ray, coming through.
Manta Ray, coming through. | Source

Manta Ray, Pufferfish, All of Them Rotate Back into the Ocean

The Shark Dive Maui is a very unique experience for scuba divers who want some hair-raising moments. The cost is $199.00 per dive. The dive itself is 30 to 40 minutes and takes place in the 750 gallon exhibit called the Open Ocean Exhibit. Due to the rotation of animals back into the ocean, you might see completely different kinds of sharks and fish during different months. The animals or fish you might see on any dive are Tiger shark, hammerhead shark, blacktip reef shark, grey reef shark, whitetip reef shark, sandbar shark, spotted eagle ray, broad stingray, and dozens of species of tropical reef and pelagic fish.

The Ocean Marine Center does not guarantee you will see each and every one of the animals during a dive. The fish you might see on any given day of a dive are the moray eel, frogfishes, butterfly fishes, Hawaiian Dascyllus, Devil Scorpionfish, Hawkfishes, Fisher’s Seahorse, Flame Angels, Hammerhead Shark, Pacific Blue Marlin, Pufferfish, Reef Triggerfish, Tiger Shark, Whale Shark, Whitetip Reef Shark, Trumpet Fish, Grouper, Manta Ray, Flowery Flounder, Great Barracuda, Broad Stingray, Parrot Fish and several other kinds of fish. Please see the lists on the website of The Maui Ocean Center. The link is provided below this article.

For those of us who have no desire to swim with these creatures or feel the water move as they swim by and look us over, we can view all of them in their magnificence by standing on the other side of the acrylic windows.

It's a beautiful world at the Maui Ocean Center and all the more so when we realize great care is taken to rotate most of these living creatures back to the sea within a reasonable time period.

Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center
Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center
Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center in Ma'alaea, Hawaii
Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center in Ma'alaea, Hawaii
Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center
Saltwater fish, Maui Ocean Center

Shark Dive at Maui Ocean Center

© 2010 Pamela Dapples


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    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      6 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thank you, MarkMAllen15.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      6 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thanks, helmutbiscut!

    • helmutbiscut profile image


      7 years ago from Ohio

      If I'm ever in Maui, I would love to do the shark dive. Diving is something I love, but don't get the opportunity to do very often. Great pictures.

    • MarkMAllen15 profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow!How fun it would be to dive under salt water and swim together with those creatures. Great hub!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thank you, Oceansnsunsets.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Pamela, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about these aquariums. I would like to see one of them one day. I love all the animals and plant life and your pictures are great! You really captured a lot with the camera of what is going on there. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Eileen, thank you for taking the time to read this hub.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Beautiful pictures, this is the closest that I would ever get to seeing these as I do not like going underwater and definitely like the thought of that big fish swimming anywhere near me. great hub

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Garnetbird and Cheeky Girl, thank you for reading this hub. I really enjoyed my visit there and will go again one day. I'll never eat shrimp again,though -- now that I know what they do!

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Gosh, these photos are awesome - I am so impressed by this. This hub makes me want to go there! Thank you for an amazing hub! Magical! :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Lovely--I miss the Aquariums in Monterey Bay, Ca.,/this is refreshing!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      drbj, I'm glad you got through it okay -- swimming with sting rays. You're brave.

      Mentalist acer, thank you for reading the hub. Yes, manta rays are really almost other-world-like. It was eerie standing underneath them like that. I can't imagine someone wanting to go in there on the shark dive activity the center allows.

      McWebster, thank you for dropping by to read. Guess what I did today? Something you do well. (Mine didn't turn out too well....but yes, pastel. I did two toucans and foliage.)

    • MCWebster profile image


      8 years ago

      Loved this hub and the photos! Thank you for sharing this info about the Maui Ocean Center. I was especially pleased to learn about how they rotate their creatures back to the wild.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I think the Manta Rays are more interesting than even the Dolphins and Sharks.Thanks for sharing Pamela;)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Pamela, for these beautiful photos. Attendance at the Maui Ocean Center is bound to increase as a result of this noteworthy hub.

      I once had the opportunity to "swim with the sting rays" off an island in the Caribbean and it was an awesome adventure. I fed them fish morsels and they inhaled them with their mouths right from your hand. When you touched their backs, it felt like sandpaper.


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