Maui News

Learn about Maui Ocean Center’s role as public aquarium during free Zoom presentation

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Tapani Vuori, Maui Ocean Center general manager and founder and president of the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, will be the guest at the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s monthly speaker series. Photo Courtesy: MOC

For January, the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s monthly “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” will feature Tapani Vuori, Maui Ocean Center’s general manager and founder and president of the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute in Māʻalaea.

Tapani will discuss “Redefining the definition of a public aquarium and what it means to our local community” during a free Zoom presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m.

His talk will look at the history of Maui Ocean Center, its operational details and its journey of transformation over the past few years, driven by Maui Ocean Centerʻs vision and mission.  


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“I will discuss topics such as the aquarium and zoo industry in general, plastic marine debris, shark finning, climate change, tourism and environmental threats to nearshore marine ecosystems,” Vuori said. “Iʻll share with the audience what Maui Ocean Center is doing about all of these issues — and why our aquarium and others around the world need to take action on the problems impacting our planetʻs oceans.” 

Vuori draws inspiration from world-renowned scientist and ocean protector Dr. Sylvia Earle, who said, “The oceans deserve our respect and care, but you have to know something before you can care about it.”  


Earleʻs powerful message is the driving force behind the energy he brings to Maui Ocean Center each day, and his goal to educate people and get them to care about the creatures beneath the oceanʻs surface.

Vuori grew up in Finland, where he formed a powerful connection with nature and the ocean — a bond he has carried throughout his life. He got his diving license as a young child and as a boy experienced the wonder of diving in winter beneath an ice-covered surface. As a young adult, Vuori moved to the United States to attend college, starting at Brigham Young University in Utah and graduating from UCLA in 1987. 

When Vuori accepted the position as Maui Ocean Center’s general manager, he had one request — to build an on-property nonprofit organization to support conservation efforts. Through his efforts and vision, Vuori became the founder and president of the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, which serves to restore Hawaiʻiʻs coral reefs and rehabilitate injured Hawaiian green sea turtles. 


Today, Vuori works from all angles to protect marine life and is deeply involved in Mauiʻs island community. In addition to his contribution at the marine institute, Vuori is an active board member of Māʻalaea Triangle Association, vice president of the Māʻalaea Village Community Association and president of the advisory council for Maui County on Civil Rights.

Vuori also is working to establish a regional wastewater treatment center for Māʻalaea Bay to replace the nutrient leaching injection wells that have caused widespread loss of coral reef and limu (edible plants) in the bay. 

“My hope is that this talk will inspire our audience to become more active in their community, where ever it may be,” he said.

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s monthly “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” events are supported by the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

To learn more about Maui Ocean Center, visit


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