Showing posts tagged as "exhibit updates"
A days-old baby swell shark is on exhibit in our Kelp Forest. The green-eyed shark is just one of many baby swells that regularly hatch inside the bustling exhibit.
It’s a lucky visitor that gets to see a baby or even an adult; they’re a big hit when they appear during the feeding show. This small (up to three feet), harmless and well-camouflaged shark prefers to hide in rocky crevices during the day, and feeds at night.
We often move young swells from the Kelp Forest to the small exhibits at the nearby touch pool, allowing visitors to get a close look at these beautiful sharks. As they grow, we move some to other exhibits, until they may eventually wind up back in the Kelp Forest exhibit.
We might trade adult swells with other aquariums in return for other species. Some we release into Monterey Bay via a detour into the outdoor Great Tide Pool, where they delight young kids participating in our Underwater Explorers summer program.
The swell shark is named for its unique defense posture. If threatened, it curls into a sharp U-shape, grasps its tail (caudal fin) in its mouth and swallows a large quantity of sea water, swelling to twice its normal size. This behavior makes it difficult for a predator to bite or evict a swell shark from its hiding spot.
Our most recent penguin chick is now on exhibit! Watch her amazing journey.
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.
Happy #Friday! The men and women in tuxedos are reporting for duty. You?
Thanks to staffer Debra Naeve for the great video!
We’re working with gorgeous barrel jellies as part of “The Jellies Experience.”
A Better Bubbler
How do you incubate cuttlefish eggs behind the scenes in preparation for our forthcoming “Tentacles” special exhibition? You could, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, buy commercial incubators. But that would be too easy. Plus, Aquarist Bret Grasse figured he could create something just as good as the store-bought jobs.
For $2.50 and “a day in the life of one volunteer,” he makes a better bubbler out of soda bottles, plastic tubing and silicone glue. It looks like mad science, but it works. To date, he’s produced hundreds of baby cuttlefish for exhibit using the system.
The First Step: Drink the Soda
Bret and his husbandry colleagues have been working on this fabulous fizzer for about four years. The challenge is to “get the greatest number of healthy hatchlings” from a given clutch. He could let nature do its job, by having the cuttlefish mom rear the little ones. But ironically, this doesn’t always achieve the best outcome, says Bret. The mom sometimes forgets where she left the clutches, or neglects them. Plus, removing the eggs and raising them separately allows mom to focus on what she does best: laying more eggs.
The first step in making the world’s best egg bubbler is the easiest: drink the soda. That done, Bret cuts the bottle in half, and affixes a small screen between the two pieces. The bottom end, where the cap used to be, also has a screen. Then the whole thing is submerged. Next, a tube injects air into the top half of the bubbler, drawing water oh-so-gently up through the whole device, and aerating the eggs with the perfect fizziness—not too much, not too little.
A Cuttlefish the Size of a Pea
While the cuttlefish eggs do their dance in the bubbler, Bret watches and waits. Eventually, the faintest trace of a baby cuttlefish appears in the egg, and an eyespot. When they finally hatch, they’re the size of a pea. The whole thing takes only a few weeks. The baby cuttlefish can then go on exhibit, where they reach their three-inch full grown size in about three months.
So far, the bubblers have been used for pharaoh, flamboyant and dwarf cuttlefish, but more species are being considered as we get closer to the launch of the new exhibit April 12.
“We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to experiment with these techniques,” says Bret. “It not only helps us produce animals for exhibit, but it plays into our conservation mission, by reducing pressure on wild stocks.
“It’s a dream come true for me, Chris Payne and Alicia Bitondo,” says Bret. “We couldn’t be happier to work with these animals and do this kind of troubleshooting.”
Plus, the soda is free.
A First-Class Flight for Our Weedy Seadragons
Last month we sent some weedy seadragons on a most excellent adventure, flying from Monterey to the Birch Aquarium in San Diego on a private plane. Apparently the weedies liked the accommodations, because just a few weeks later, one of the 10 seadragons hatched babies from the eggs it was carrying on its tail!
To ensure delicate handling and limit the amount of car travel required for the animals, the seadragons were carefully packed in coolers before the flight.
“Transporting adult seadragons is not something that happens very often,” said Jonelle Verdugo, our associate curator of fish and invertebrates. “We were a bit concerned about how well they would handle the move from Monterey to Birch. When the male weedy was discovered with eggs on its tail, that elevated our worry to a new level.”
If the male seadragon was stressed, he might have dropped the eggs. The experts at both aquariums did everything possible to reduce stress that might be caused by the trip to San Diego.
“Being able to fly the seadragon in a private plane significantly reduced the amount of time it took to get him from his old home to his new home,” Jonelle added.
Fortunately, “The babies are doing great!” said Birch Aquarium husbandry expert Leslee Matsushige. “They’re eating and getting bigger every day,”
The donated seadragons were part of our temporary exhibit, “The Secret Lives of Seahorses,” which closed September 3 to make room for our next amazing exhibit focusing on octopuses, cuttlefishes and their kin. (It opens April 12, 2014.) Learn more about “Tentacles”.
Good morning from Rosa, our golden girl! Hope you have a great week. If you need a mental health break, you can always watch our otters live!
What’s life like for our penguin chick behind the scenes right now? We’ll warn you. It’s pretty rough.