HONOLULU (KHON2) — To celebrate Earth Day many organizations across the islands are hosting events. The Waikiki Aquarium will take part in celebrating with staff helping keiki release fish into the ocean to help naturally clean the reef.

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KHON2 spoke to Dr. Rossiter about how the Striped Mullet, or ‘ama’ama in Hawaiian, help the environment and where you can see them if you take a stroll in Waikiki.

What are ‘ama’ama?

‘Ama’ama are blue-gray fish that live in coastal water across the globe. They like to swim in warm waters and eat algae and other marine forms filtered from sand and mud.

In Hawaii, these fish were highly valued and eventually captured and relocated to fishponds for cultivation.

Hawaiians also named this fish three different names depending on the size:

  • Pua’ama: one to three inches
  • Kahala: four to seven inches
  • ‘Ama’ama: eight to twelve inches

Dr. Rossiter said these fish were hatched in 2015 and gifted to the aquarium while they were about an inch long. Today, they are full grown.

Fun fact: Dr. Rossiter told us that because these fish eat low quality food, they don’t have a true stomach. They have an intestine that is incredibly long to digest the poor-quality food.

Keiki release

This year, keiki from President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School will release thirty to fifty grown ‘ama’ama near the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial behind the Waikiki Aquarium. Each keiki will release one fish into the water.

According to Dr. Rossiter, the fish like to stay in one area so the public and visitors can see them roam around while cleaning up the ecosystem.

They are also fairly easy to spot as they have silver on their sides that shine when the sun hits them.

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Dr, Rossiter hopes to educate not only the keiki, but the public as well during this release and encourages anyone to ask questions.

Other Earth Day events