Science Pub-Hawai‘i focuses on aquaculture’s role in conserving reefs

January 15, 2014

HONOLULU — Oceanic Institute research scientist Chatham K. Callan, Ph.D., will speak about cutting edge research in aquarium fish breeding at Science Pub-Hawai‘i, Monday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. His presentation is titled “Using aquaculture to help conserve Hawai‘i’s reefs – the many challenges of culturing coral reef species.”

Chatham K. Callan, Ph.D.

OI, which recently merged with Hawai‘i Pacific University, is leading the way in yellow tang research, with breakthroughs that may one day allow the popular aquarium fish to be bred through aquaculture. Being able to culture popular fish would also help in conservation. For example more than 300,000 yellow tang are collected in the wild and exported from Hawai‘i annually.

“Culturing yellow tang will be a huge step forward in the conservation of Hawai‘i’s coral reefs,” Callan said. “Not only would it help reduce the fishing pressure on the reefs for these aquarium species, but it could unlock some doors towards culturing other very difficult to rear fish — such as deep-water snappers or groupers that also have very tiny and fragile larvae.”

Callan’s team is about to begin a one-year project aimed at bringing the culturing work from its current state to a level that will facilitate the first ever successful captive rearing of this species. An HPU marine science graduate student, under Callan's guidance, will also play a key role in this significant research.

“This current project will investigate two probable causes for low survival during the early larval period. These are: improper nutrition of the live feeds, and the potential for colonization of harmful bacteria in the rearing environment,” Callan said. “Through this research, we hope to get a much better understanding of the requirements during the early larval period so that we might maximize the number of fish getting through this critical period,” he said.

Presented by HPU, Science Pub-Hawai‘i is held on the waterfront outdoor stage at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace. This well-attended informal showcase of research and scholarship is for people who like to learn and discuss timely topics. For the months of January and February, Science Pub-Hawai‘i will be on the fourth Monday of the month.

The event is free, and though no RSVP is required, Science Pub friends are encouraged to let others know they’re coming via Facebook, www.facebook.com/sciencepubhawaii. Bring friends and your questions about the world around us and consider arriving early to enjoy Gordon Biersch’s acclaimed food and drink. Learn more at www.hpu.edu/sciencepub-hawaii.