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.

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