Showing posts tagged as "splash zone"
Coming in Like a Lion(fish)
March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb as stormy winter weather gives way to a milder spring. Now April is coming in like a lion, too – with the latest addition to our Splash Zone galleries.
The new arrival – the captivating and beautiful lionfish – isn’t just another pretty face. It’s an infamous fish that carries an important conservation message.
Far from Home
Native to the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea, lionfish are fabulous residents of their home waters. Unfortunately, they were introduced to waters off the U.S. east coast in the mid-1980s and are now a destructive invasive species from the mid-Atlantic through Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and into Central and South America.
Cause for Concern
Their fluttering maroon-and-white-striped dorsal fins hide venomous spines that require our husbandry teams to take extra precautions around them. Yet the bigger concern is the threat these fish pose to ecosystems in waters where they don’t belong.
Invasive lionfish have no natural predators outside their home waters, and they compete with native fish for both food and habitat. Lionfish have a hearty appetite for commercially and ecologically important native fish species, and are able to thrive in waters from the shoreline to depths of more than 400 feet. In warmer waters, females are capable of spawning 30,000 eggs every four days, making them prolific breeders and poster fish for invasive species.
The Edible Invader
Our exhibit lionfish were collected from the Florida Keys, where the species has taken a foot – or rather fin – hold since 2009. Absent other lionfish predators, people have adopted the mantra “Eat ‘em to beat ‘em” to encourage consumption of these marine invaders. (They are as tasty as they are beautiful.)
You don’t have to wait for our Tentacles special exhibition (opens April 12) to see cool cephalopods at the Aquarium. These red octopuses in our Splash Zone have been particularly active lately! Read how one adventurous red octopus went on a midnight ramble at the Aquarium
It may not be built for speed, but it’s plenty tough! We have a leather chiton in our Splash Zone Kelp Garden exhibit. This football-shaped chiton can reach five inches, has strong protective plates, and thrives on exposed rocky coasts and in strong wave action.
It’s considered a keystone species as it eats a brown algae. Without the leather chiton, this algae would predominate.
Feeling sheepish? We’d love your creative caption for this photo of Maq, our African blackfooted penguin chick who hatched last March.
Thanks to penguin keeper Monika Rohrer for the great shot!
Not only does the “electric flame” or “disco” scallop have cool names, it’s also quite striking! This clam generates light by unfurling its reflective mantle. Scientists believe this is to lure prey, or perhaps serve as a warning to predators.
See it now in the Splash Zone tunnel!
Gong Hei Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year to all!
To all our friends celebrating the start of the Year of the Horse, our best wishes for a fulfilling new year!
Since red is the traditional color of the new year, what better animal to feature than this yellow (yellow?) seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, which you can see in our Splash Zone exhibit galleries. Despite the name, yellow seahorses come in a variety of colors, including reddish-orange, yellow and even black.
(If you’re feeling especially prosperous, consider giving those you love a bright red Monterey Bay Aquarium gift card to start the year.)
Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium - Randy Wilder
What was our most popular blog post of 2013? You guessed it: the crazy, thumb-splitting, thermonuclear, all-seeing killer mantis shrimp. We hope you got a chance to see it!
Attention, “Finding Nemo” fans: we just added several dozen baby clownfish in our Splash Zone exhibit. And there’s more to come—we’ve got 250 behind the scenes, just waiting to make their debut alongside other “Finding Nemo” characters at the Aquarium.
“We patiently waited for the eggs to develop as the dad clownfish took great care of them,” said Raymond Direen, who cared for the brood with fellow aquarist Jenn Anstey. “The dad constantly used his pectoral fins to fan the eggs and keep them clean. After about two weeks, they separated from the father, and morphed into little baby clownfish.
“We’re pleased with the success and expect them to grow up good and healthy!” says Raymond.
Happy #Friday! The men and women in tuxedos are reporting for duty. You?
Thanks to staffer Debra Naeve for the great video!
Have you seen him? Our plump penguin chick is getting fuzzier by the day.