SEA-son of Giving at Maui Ocean Center

Even Santa wants to feed the fish at the Maui Ocean Center. -- Photo courtesy MOC

Through the month of December, Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea, celebrates the holiday season with a charity shopping event, a favorite Christmas tree contest, letter writing to Santa and marine-animal snowflake crafts.

MOC’s annual holiday shopping event, SEA-son of Giving, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, supports local nonprofits including the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, Maui Nuit Marine Resource Council and more.

Take a photo with Santa, enjoy shopping among 20 local vendors, listen to live performances by Maui Community Band, the Renaissance-style singing group Maui Madrigals and the Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra. Best of all is the unique tradition of witnessing a visit from Scuba Claus in the Open Ocean exhibit.

Cost is $14.95. Bring a five- pound bag of rice for the Maui Food Bank or a new, unwrapped toy for Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, and receive a $5 discount on admission.

Every day in December, be sure to vote for a favorite Christmas tree that has been decorated by various MOC teams. Trees are located in the Living Reef foyer, the Blacktip Exhibit, the Marine Mammal Discovery Center and the Open Ocean Exhibit. To cast your vote, take a photo of your favorite tree and tag MOC on social media with #holidaytree@mauioceancenter.

Now through Dec. 24, write your heart’s desires for the environment on a postcard provided by MOC, and place your note in Santa’s mailbox located in the Living Reef foyer.

The movie of the month at the Makai Theater is “Coral Reefs: Trouble in Paradise,” which follows an international scientific team in the Chagos Archipelago — an isolated tropical paradise in British Indian Ocean Territory with some of the healthiest coral reefs on the planet. Initially, the scientists are overcome by the beauty of the reef, yet within a few weeks, they begin to see serious case of coral bleaching.  

Daily movie times are 10:30 a.m., 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Admission is complimentary with aquarium admission. There is limited seating, so it is suggested that tickets be picked up at the park entrance when entering. Closed caption is not available on this film. Recommended for ages 10 and older.

If you are looking for a fun holiday craft, you can create your own marine animal-shape snowflake from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at the Hawaiians and the Sea exhibit. Appropriate for ages 3 to 12 years, you may take your creation with you or leave it for the MOC staff to hang up in the aquarium for all to enjoy.

For more information about SEA-son of Giving or the Maui Ocean Center, call 270-7000 or visit