HPU Merger Speeds Up Marine Studies At Oceanic Institute


The Jan. 7 merger between Oceanic Institute and Hawaii Pacific University should accelerate research efforts across the Pacific, officials say.

Located next to Sea Life Park, OI houses 50 scientists, technicians and support staff, and has been affiliated with HPU since 2003. Now they all are employees of Hawaii’s largest private university.

The merger is a long-awaited milestone, according to OI president Shaun Moss, who calls it a winwin for all parties.

“The special research capacities we have developed at Oceanic Institute are of keen interest to a growing number of concerns in the United States and in nations literally around the world,” he stated. “Our new status as a university-wide institute within HPU will help us to deepen those capacities and to form new relationships with other concerns that have interest in our work.”

HPU president Geoffrey Bannister noted that both students and faculty will benefit from having OI available for their own projects, and it also will “inspire additional multi-disciplinary research within the university.”

The Waimanalo research hub already is making strides in the aquaculture field, such as shrimp husbandry, fin fish breeding and its specific pathogen-free shrimp broodstock. Updates on aquarium fish projects, for example, were shared with the public Jan. 27 at HPU’s Science Pub-Hawaii at Aloha Tower Marketplace, where researcher Chatham Callan described a one-year study on breeding captive yellow tang – a topic of great interest to the aquarium industry. (Every year 300,000 yellow tang are found in the wild and exported from Hawaii.)

“Culturing yellow tang will be a huge step forward in the conservation of Hawaii’s coral reef,” Callan said. “Not only would it help reduce the fishing pressure on the reefs for these aquarium species, but it could unlock some doors toward culturing other very-difficult-to-rear fish.” HPU also announced Jan. 24 an infusion of $75,000 for Callan’s project from multiple funders and in-kind support.

“We hope to build on this success with new research on other species,” added Moss, “and to explore other ways that the Institute can contribute to the global body of knowledge on fin-fish.”

The state first leased land to Pacific Foundation of Marine Research in 1960 to develop an institute for marine education, marine science and ocean industry. Initially known at Makapuu Oceanic Center, it became Oceanic Institute in 1972.