The Waikiki Aquarium Celebrates 108 Years

Since March 19th, 1904, The Waikiki Aquarium has been showing Hawaiian visitors and residents what the ocean life surrounding the Hawaiian Islands  is like. That makes the aquarium 108 years old, the third oldest aquarium in the United States.


Charles M. Cooke and James B. Castle joined forces to gather the resources to create the aquarium as a means to entice passengers on their new trolley line to ride all the way to the end in Kapiolani Park. Cooke made a monetary gift of 8,000 dollars and Castle contributed the lease for the building site. The trolley lines final terminal was located across from the aquarium. When the Aquarium first opened in 1904 it contained 35 tanks and 400 marine organisms, David Starr Jordan, a world renowned biologist from that time period said that the aquarium had the finest collection of fishes in the world, when it opened it was considered state-of-the-art. For its first 15 years the aquarium was run as a privately financed institution whose displays were collected by local fisherman. The Charles M. Cooke estate donated the funds for the aquarium to build an adjoining marine biology laboratory, and in 1919 when the property lease expired the Aquarium’s property lease was ceded to the territory of Hawai’i, and the University of Hawai’i assumed the role of operating the aquarium and the lab.

Currently at the Aquarium

The aquarium has gone through its ups and downs since opening, and is now at a point of great abundance. There are many exhibits located within the aquarium to educated visitors about the many species of marine life located in the waters around Hawai’i. From fish you’d see snorkeling in Waikiki to fish that are only found around the remote and restricted Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Waikiki Aquarium has a little something for everyone.

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