DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waikiki Aquarium Director Andrew Rossiter looked at the aquarium's exhibit of rare giant clams, which will reopen to the public today. A security alarm and fence have been put up so visitors are not able to reach into the tank.
Aquarium exhibit clams up
Security Alarm Shop donates and installs equipment for free to secure the display
As tight as a clam.
That's the kind of security the Waikiki Aquarium is looking at to protect its rare giant clam exhibit, which reopens today.
Greater security measures, a taller fence and more distance between clams and visitors are part of the aquarium's solutions seven months after someone stole seven of the giant clams. The clams were returned, but one died a few weeks later.
"It's unfortunate that one person's selfishness forced us to take these measures," said Waikiki Aquarium Director Andrew Rossiter. Yet, he said, "It's still pretty breathtaking, it's still pretty good."
Although they are called giant clams, the ones on display measure between two and four inches across, Rossiter said, and will not grow much bigger. They were raised in captivity in the Solomon Islands, Palau and Fiji and are prized for the iridescent green, blue, yellow, purple, red and brown colors of their mantle tissues.
There are larger giant clams that can grow up to four feet across and 500 pounds in other exhibits at the aquarium.
Giant clams are not native to Hawaiian waters and are listed as threatened by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species to protect them from over-exploitation.
The giant clam exhibit was designed to give children a close look at the colorful mollusks. The aquarium closed the exhibit after someone stole some of the more colorful clams from the outdoor display tank.
When the clams were returned anonymously a week later, Rossiter said he planned to reopen the exhibit within a month after installing extra security measures. But there was an obstacle: "Money," Rossiter said.
The aquarium didn't have the estimated $5,000 to $7,000 in its budget to buy and install extra security equipment, he said.
Jim Harrow, president of Security Alarm Shop, heard about the aquarium's situation and donated the equipment and installed it free of charge.
"It gets me upset any time it affects children," Harrow said.
Harrow said he doesn't know how much the donated equipment and installation is worth. Rossiter believes it is between $8,000 and $10,000.
The Waikiki Aquarium has about 60 of the colorful giant clams. Between 35 and 40 will be on display at any given time.