The Maui Ocean Center unveiled its new nonprofit initiative, the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute (MOCMI), this week at the International Union of Conservation for Nature World Conservation Congress event on Oahu. Maui Ocean Center recognizes the environmental challenges brought upon by global climate change as well as the need for additional, actionable conservation measures, it announced at the IUCN.
As a nonprofit organization, the Institute will have access to the resources needed to address the substantial challenges facing marine environments and sea creatures today.
Through strong collaborative relationships with state, federal and private organizations, the Institute will focus its efforts on the preservation of rare and endemic Hawaiian corals. MOCMI also will work to rehabilitate threatened and endangered sea turtles, and provide outreach and education in marine sciences.
MOCMI’s purpose is founded on those three pillars: establishing a program that rehabilitates and releases rescued threatened and endangered sea turtles; creating and maintain a facility that will serve as a repository for rare and endemic Hawaiian corals; and providing educational opportunities at all levels to inspire individuals to pursue careers in marine sciences.
MOCMI will utilize Maui Ocean Center’s existing facilities to create a rehabilitation center where injured or sick sea turtles will have sufficient time and medical care to recover and be released back to the ocean. The team of Maui Ocean Center marine biologists, who have experience in sea turtle husbandry, will share their skills, knowledge, and expertise with MOCMI’s future team of marine biologists to expand the level of care available for turtles on the island of Maui.
MOCMI will provide a safe haven for rare and endemic Hawaiian corals by creating a “coral bank” where these corals can be propagated and grown with the goal of being transplanted back to the ocean. MOCMI will benefit from the experience and expertise that Maui Ocean Center has gained through its collaboration with the state Division of Aquatic Resources in housing and studying rare and endemic Hawaiian corals.
Also, with the donated use of Maui Ocean Center’s Wet Lab, MOCMI will have access to the necessary infrastructure to protect and propagate these corals until a permanent facility can be established.
MOCMI educational efforts range from teaching preschoolers to love and appreciate the ocean and its creatures to contributing to a student’s pursuit of a career in the marine sciences. The new institute also will provide increased internship opportunities to those wanting to pursue a career in marine sciences.
Maui Ocean Center delegates will be present at IUCN through September 10. The public is invited to visit the joint Maui Ocean Center and MOCMI booth to learn more about the past, present and future educational and conservation initiatives.
Photo: Brocken Inaglory