Monday, August 20, 2012

New Animals at the Aquarium

We are excited to announce the addition of two new animals to the Aquarium family!

Spotted eagle ray

Aquarium staff introduced the spotted eagle ray to his new home on July 10. The young male, called "Twister", is acclimating well to the Aquarium’s largest exhibit and his new neighbors. Visitors can easily recognize the animal by his whip-like tail fin, the fluid winging movement of his large pectoral fins, a pronounced snout, and, of course, a white polka-dot pattern on the brown dorsal body.

Spotted eagle rays can grow to 9 feet wide and weigh as much as 500 pounds. They live throughout tropical and warm waters as far north as North Carolina in the summer and as far south as Brazil. This species also lives in the Red Sea and waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands.
The species is near threatened globally. Small litter sizes, schooling tendencies and inshore habitat preferences make this species particularly vulnerable to overfishing.

Twister, a spotted eagle ray at the Aquarium.

Goliath grouper
A Goliath grouper may reach an adult weight of 400 pounds, so Aquarium staff knew it would take some clever arranging skills to be able to put their goliath grouper on exhibit. Though not fully grown, the potential size of the fish necessitated a larger exhibit with lots of room for the grouper to grow. It was decided that the grouper would be a great addition to the Blockade Runner Condor exhibit. But, portions of the replicated shipwreck would have to be removed in order to allow for goliath grouper’s growing potential.
Aquarium staff relocated fish currently living in Blockade Runner to other exhibits and set about draining the tank to cut away a large central portion of the shipwreck. Once removed, the tank was refilled and prepared for its new occupants. The goliath grouper was successfully relocated to the Blockade Runner exhibit in mid-August. 

This species is critically endangered globally. In 1990, the U.S. enacted a harvest ban to protect this vulnerable species which will hopefully allow this beautiful fish to bounce back from near extinction.

A goliath grouper at the Aquarium.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Predator vs. Prey Summer Camp: Box Turtle

Each day summer campers interact with an animal and learn about that particular animal's relationship with either it's predator or it's prey.

On day 2, the theme is "Herbivores". Campers learned about box turtles and the relationship box turtles have with their "prey" which is often fruit, vegetables, crickets and worms.

In their own words, campers describe their favorite predator-prey interaction:

"Box turtles and fruit, vegetables and crickets." -Angel
"Box turtle - crickets and leaves." -Alyssa
"A box turtle [because] they eat worms." -Skyla
"The box turtle because it was so cute to see its eyes." -Sophia
"The box turtle [was my favorite predator-prey interaction]." -Skeets

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Predator Vs. Prey Summer Camp: Relationships

For the next two weeks, summer campers will learn how tough life in the animal world is. Campers are learning about animal relationships and interactions. In the animal world, you must eat or be eaten.

In their own words, campers name their favorite predator/prey relationship they've learned so far.

"My favorite predator relationship would be cows and grass." -Alexia
"Megalodons and giant squid." -Katy
"Yellow stingray and its prey [which] is fish." -Michael K.
"My favorite predator is a turtle. Turtles eat jelly fish." -Laura
"Blue heron and fish." -Sam
"My favorite predator and prey are killer whales and sea lions/seals." -Kelly
"My favorite predators are wolves. They eat deer and other wild animals." -Sydney
"Lions and zebras!" -A.J.T.
"Manta-ray and crill." -Dakota
"Deer who eat plants. I love deer and plants." -Campbell