Showing posts tagged as "Monterey Bay Habitats"
A Bat Ray Gets a Bath
No one likes ticks. Least of all a fish.
That’s why Senior Aquarist Erin Lyman and her team give freshwater baths to our beautiful bat rays every eight weeks. It’s a concept any pet-owning person can understand. Of course, these aren’t technically ticks—they’re tiny, three-millimeter flatworms. But, just like ticks on a dog, they make life unbearable for bat rays, attaching to skin, eyes and gills. If ignored, they can create vision problems, infections and all manner of misery.
But after just four minutes in freshwater, the parasites fill with water (due to osmotic pressure), burst, and fall off. For a fish, it’s the best bath ever.
Where do they come from?
The Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit—like all the displays in the Aquarium’s Ocean’s Edge wing—takes in water from the bay. This connection to the open ocean is one of the reasons our exhibits look so natural. But while bay water brings in many things we want, like tiny plants and nutrients—it also brings in a few that we don’t—like flatworms.
In nature, bat rays (Myliobatis californica) can scrape off the tiny ticks naturally as they move along the seafloor. But in the busy environment of our exhibit, this doesn’t always happen. That’s when we intervene. A total of four people—two in the water, and two above—are needed to gently urge the 25-pound rays into a sling, lift them clear of the water, and place them in the freshwater bath. It’s all over in a few minutes. It’s a process we also use with our giant sea bass and other fish, and was pioneered at the Aquarium.
Over the years our aquarists have tried many different methods to treat the pesky parasites, including filtration, chemicals and removing them manually. They also supplement the ray’s diet with vitamins and live oysters to strengthen their immune systems. But when it comes to getting rid of the nasties, nothing works quite as well as a bath. Our two large rays have reached the ripe old age of 10, so we must be doing something right!
Erin and her colleagues presented the technique at the International Elasmobranch Symposium at the Aquarium in early November, and her findings will eventually be part of a husbandry manual.
Love sharks? We just added a 6-foot, 71-pound sevengill shark to our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit, collected from San Francisco Bay. Besides being beautiful to look at, these sharks are part of ongoing research designed to help save sharks.
Love sharks? We just added two beautiful male sevengills to our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit, collected in San Francisco Bay. One is seven feet and 84 pounds; the other is six feet and 53 pounds. These sharks are tagged and will eventually be released as part of our efforts to learn more about sharks, which are threatened worldwide.
If you have kids, you know that bath time is never easy. So imagine this: we recently gave three black sea bass freshwater baths. This helps maintain the health of this critically endangered species, but also involves a lot of heavy lifting, splashing and coordinated teamwork, according to our aquarists. These 3 have gained between 4 and 13 pounds since June; the largest is 210 pounds!
Did you know that we hand- and pole-feed many of the animals in our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit—even sharks? This helps ensure everybody gets just the right amount to eat—not too much, and not too little!
Today’s fun fact for Shark Week: How many shark species can you see when you visit? We have hammerhead and sandbar sharks in the Open Sea; leopard sharks in our Kelp Forest, Aviary and Deep Reefs; horn and swell sharks in our Enchanted Kelp Forest touch pools. We have sevengills, spiny dogfish and angel sharks in Monterey Bay Habitats. In summer we’ve had a white shark in the Open Sea. We have guitarfish in the Aviary and skates and rays in many exhibits. Okay, which species is this?
Cool job! Our Aquarists get to hand-feed many of the fish in our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit, like this sturgeon. These fish are sometimes called “living fossils”—they were swimming the world’s waters when dinosaurs roamed the land, and they can live to be over 100 years old! Learn more.
Was that a penguin that just swam past in the Diving Birds exhibit? Actually, they’re common murres, some of which were rescued after an oil spill along the coast. It looks like they’re “flying” underwater!