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Families dive deep into wonders of sea

    Bishop Museum welcomed visitors to check out its “Creatures of the Abyss” exhibit yesterday during Family Sunday. Parents and kids got to learn about what lies beneath the ocean’s surface.
    Allison Pang, 10, and her brother Kaison, 7, checked out the tentacles of a colossal squid -- the centerpiece display of the museum’s exhibit.
    Visitors walked past an image of a juvenile sperm whale at Bishop Museum’s “Creatures of the Abyss” exhibit yesterday during the museum’s Family Sunday event. The displays offer a peek at the world far below the ocean’s surface.

Maryknoll School fifth-grader Allison Pang loves to write mystery-adventure stories centered around ocean creatures and got a head full of ideas and facts yesterday when she and her little brother learned about life thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface at Bishop Museum.

"You don’t really see these things every day when you go to the ocean," Allison said as she stood next to a replica of a colossal squid, which is even bigger than a giant squid.

Candice Pang of Kuliouou brought her children Allison, 10, and Kaison, 7, to the museum yesterday for Family Sunday, where they learned about hydrothermal vents, bioluminescence, deep-sea canyons, Alvin — the first deep-sea submersible capable of carrying humans — and the space-age-looking creatures that thrive in darkness under tons of ocean pressure.

Growing up in an island state, several children — and their parents — said yesterday that the museum’s "Creatures of the Abyss" exhibit gave them an even greater appreciation for doing their part to take care of the ocean.

Loren Nakamura and his daughter, Kaitlyn, a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Soto Academy, had just started touring the exhibit yesterday when Kaitlyn said, "There’s a lot to learn about all the different creatures."

"It’s definitely educational for the children," Loren Nakamura said.

The exhibit was created by Science North, a science center in Sudbury, Ontario, to give air-breathers an interactive glimpse of what scientists have found at ocean depths that average 13,000 feet.

The ocean contains 99 percent of Earth’s living space, according to Bishop Museum, but only 3 percent has been explored.

And each time scientists journey to the deep ocean, according to the museum, new species of life are discovered.

Back on land in the museum’s Castle Memorial Building yesterday, 2-year-old James Mathison of Hawaii Kai raced among the exhibits that included a cutaway replica of Alvin — and videos of its voyages — and a special theater that lets visitors see firsthand how bioluminescence illuminates an undersea world that never sees sunlight.

Alvin, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, has a long record of subsea exploration, including the decks of the Titanic in 1986 and Loihi Seamount off the Big Island.

Even though he is still a toddler, James’ mother, Imelda Mathison, believes the exhibit planted seeds in her son’s head about ocean exploration and the need to take care of the seas.

"There’s a lot of visual excitement for younger kids, and I definitely think it’ll help him understand about taking care of the ocean," Mathison said. "It’s perfect for him."

Allison and Kaison kept taking their mother back to the colossal squid, which stirred Allison’s imagination for new stories about life underwater.

"This gives me more ideas to write about the animals of the ocean," she said, "and it gave me lots of more facts."

The exhibit continues through Jan. 9.

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