OI-HPU yellow tang research gets boost from multiple funders

January 24, 2014

Yellow Tang at OI

Oceanic Institute of HPU is making significant breakthroughs in rearing and feeding 
technology for yellow tang. (Photo courtesy of Melissa D. Rietfors)

WAIMANALO, Hawai‘i — Groundbreaking breeding research at Oceanic Institute of Hawai‘i Pacific University on the yellow tang, an enormously popular fish for aquarium enthusiasts worldwide, will go forward with greater speed, thanks to $75,000 in new funding from multiple sources. 

The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority have committed $35,000 to the research, through HTA’s Natural Resources Program. The Sea World/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund is providing an additional $8,000. OI-HPU is also providing $32,000 in in-kind support, as well. 

Last year, Institute research scientist Chatham K. Callan, Ph.D., realized a breakthrough in breeding techniques that allow them to culture viable eggs in significant quantities and successfully rear the resulting larvae through their critical first few weeks of life. Callan called the research, which was published in Global Aquaculture Advocate, “a significant first step toward a viable, cultured supply” of yellow tang. 

Callan will speak at Science Pub-Hawai‘i on Monday, Jan. 27, a free evening event at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace, about the research and aquaculture’s role in conservation of reefs. 

The continued development of the breeding techniques could be a boon for the aquarium industry as well as Hawai‘i’s coastal environment. Because the fish have not been able to be bred successfully in captivity, more than 300,000 of them are collected from Hawaiʻi reefs annually. 

The new funding will support 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. 

“This research is a fine illustration of Oceanic Institute’s continued dedication to marine aquaculture, biotechnology and coastal resource management,” said Shaun Moss, acting president of OI and CEO of Scientific Programs. “With our recent merger with Hawaiʻi Pacific University, we hope to build on this success with new research on other species and to explore other ways that the Institute can contribute to the global body of knowledge on finfish.” 

Chatham K. Callan, Ph.D.

Chatham K. Callan, Ph.D.