After being closed for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Waikiki Aquarium will reopen to the public starting July 1.
“We’re excited to finally be able to welcome guests back to our jewel of an aquarium,” said Andrew Rossiter, director of the aquarium, in a statement. “As the second oldest aquarium in the United States and one of the longest running establishments in Hawaii, Waikiki Aquarium has educated several generations and made a national and international impact in marine conservation efforts throughout the world. We were fortunate enough to survive through these hard times, and I am thankful that Waikiki Aquarium can continue to spread its mission.”
To control capacity, tickets may be bought online in advance. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis and must pay via credit card.
There will be a restriction on the number of guests allowed at the aquarium galleries at any given time.
Other safety guidelines will be in place at the aquarium, including requiring facial coverings at all times for visitors over 2 years old; social distancing of at least 6 feet; the use of clear acrylic barriers at the front desk and gift shop; the placement of hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility; frequent cleaning of “high-touch” areas; and the decommissioning of “high-touch” technologies like touch screens and informational kiosks until further notice.
“It has been a challenging year, but we have exciting things planned for the Aquarium in the upcoming years,” added Rossiter. “The money we were relying on for a renovation failed to materialize, but now the University is kindly getting involved. We’re looking at doing more than the renovation, with a major construction project in the future. The University’s support, input, and expertise will allow us to undertake significant fundraising programs, and give us the ability to move into the future.”
The project will include work on the lawn area to accommodate new exhibits, an education center, lecture rooms and other facilities to modernize the aquarium.
The Hawaiian monk seal exhibit is also being renovated and repaired, and the resident seal, Ho‘ailona, is being moved behind the scenes and will be transferred to the mainland to be part of a year-long behavioral study on monk seals. He will return to Hawaii in the summer of 2022.