The Hawaiian monk seal exhibit at Waikiki Aquarium is undergoing renovations, and will remain temporarily closed for about three months.
The aquarium’s two resident monk seals — Maka onaona and Ho‘ailona — will stay in quarantine pools behind the scenes and out of view while the $110,000 renovation project, which involves resurfacing, is being completed. The live webcam of the two monk seals is also on hiatus.
“The existing monk seal pool underwent repairs over decades,” said Waikiki Aquarium director Andrew Rossiter, “and instead of doing the whole surface, they did it in patches…We noticed this is going to be a problem in the next couple of years. Rather than repeat the mistakes of the past, with patchwork, we’re going to redo the entire surface of the pool.”
Rossiter said the two monk seals will continue to be taken care of, and visited regularly by veterinarians.
Maka, 33, is originally a male orphan from the French Frigate Shoals and considered the oldest Hawaiian monk seal in captivity, according to the aquarium, while Ho‘ailona, almost 10, was abandoned by his mother soon after his birth on Kauai. Ho‘ailona, who has impaired vision, lived on Molokai as well as the University of California Santa Cruz before finding a home at the aquarium in 2011.
The monk seal exhibit has been closed since Jan. 22. During the renovations, the aquarium will continue to offer its regularly scheduled educational activities, including monk seal crafts, presentations by the Hawaii Marine Animal Response team and special workshops by wildlife artist Patrick Ching.