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At Hawaii’s Waikiki Aquarium, there’s more to see than what’s inside the tanks

The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu
The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu urges visitors to see native plants on land as well as marine life.
(Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

Sea creatures are the typical stars of big aquariums. But at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, experts want you to check out the plants, and they aren’t talking about seaweed.

Visitors now receive a Hawaiian Plant Tour brochure when they pick up their free audio wands or take a docent-led tour at the aquarium. The self-guided tour points you to indigenous flora found growing on the grounds outside the tanks.

The bark, roots and leaves of the akia plant are used by fishermen to stun fish. The plant is one of several featured on a self-guided tour.
The bark, roots and leaves of the akia plant are used by fishermen to stun fish. The plant is one of several featured on a self-guided tour.
(Waikiki Aquarium )

Why the push about plants? It’s an opportunity to explain the direct link between flora and ocean life.

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For example, the kukui (candle nut) produces nuts rich in an oil that fishermen use to clear the ocean waters, a news release says.

Bark, roots and leaves from a shrub called akia release a narcotic that fishermen use to stun fish. There’s also the milo (portia) tree, whose flowers resemble the open mouth of a moray eel.

The ohia lehua is one of the native plants highlighted in the Hawaiian Plant Tour. Legend has it that plucking its flowers will produce rainfall.
The ohia lehua is one of the native plants highlighted in the Hawaiian Plant Tour. Legend has it that plucking its flowers will produce rainfall.
(Waikiki Aquarium )

The self-guided Hawaiian Plant Tour includes a map showing where various species are located as well as facts about each one.

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The aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids 4 to 12 years old.  It’s located along Waikiki Beach at 2777 Kalakaua Ave., across the street from Kapiolani Park.

Founded in 1904, Waikiki Aquarium is among the oldest aquariums in the U.S.

Info: Waikiki Aquarium, (808) 923-9741

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