Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Hi Sea Fans!

I started travelling at the end of 2011 and now, 5 years later, I'm STILL visiting friends!  I've been really spoilt, it was only meant to be a year of travels....oh well, lots to see and so many people to chat to.

One of the interesting places that I have visited is Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, where Zila offered to show me around. (Thanks Zila!!)

When this aquarium was built, it had the largest main window (acrylic panel) in the world! 32.8 meters wide, 8.3 metres high, 750 mm thick and weighing 245,614 kg. It even got into the Guiness Book of Records.

They started with a HUGE tank filled with different fish and shark species and an "underwater zoo" section that housed otters, water rats, freshwater (including the massive arapaima) and marine fish as well as seals.  They have since got an Arabian nightlife section with insects and other animals, a gigantic croc, an octopus, penguins and a special shark section.  Let me take you on a bit of a tour of this place so that you can see what kind of things Zila (head aquarist) does in a day:

First, we get to see what the public get to see - the underwater observatory.  This is the big tank with that extra large window.  The public can also pay to dive in this tank...Zila gets paid to dive in this tank!  The aquarists take turns to feed the animals in this large exhibit and there are different feeds - shark feeds, scatter feeds that are more general and targeted feeds where animals like moray eels are fed.

The submarine tank exhibit where you can see cardinalfish and urchins and other interesting creatures.
You can also try your hand at sonar and find the turtles.
Then we go behind the scenes with Abby to check out the jelly lab where babies (polyps) are grown out for display.  It's quite amazing finding out that things like a temperature difference can make a jelly have out climate change!
Every day, Ariel, the water quality aquarist, and Zila have to check the water quality of all the exhibits to mae sure that they are living in a clean home.  Too much poo would change the pH  - not good for their fish!
Who would have thought that you'd find fruit and verg in an aquarium?!  Well, this is the nutria (water rat) food.  I loved getting the food ready and loved meeting the rats even more...
These guys are big.
 I also got to meet the Asian small-clawed otters,
 and the HUmboldt penguins.

And then I got to meet Mango, the rescued Scarlet Macaw who is now a part of the Dubai Aquarium family.

What an adventure, thanks to everyone at Dubai Aquarium!!  Off I go to the next adventure ;)

Sea you soon!
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Hi Sea Fans!

Long time no see!  This last year just seems to have been a blur!  Unfortunately, my book is no longer available through but if you would like a copy just mail the author at and she'll hook you up with one.  The first book is almost completely sold out but there are a bunch of book 2 left so get your order in now for Christmas stockings!

Sea you soon!
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shark babies

Hi Sea Fans!

Just a quick one today..check this video out for more on how sharks are born:

Have a great week!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sharks and cats have something in common

Hi Sea Fans!

It's been a while...busy busy busy.  I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween and those of you in South Africa, I hope you're enjoying the sunshine.  Those of you living up North, please build me a snowman with the first snow...and send me a pic of it!  It would be great if it was sea-themed too!

Well, I've been very busy with shark work so I thought I'd tell you guys one or two interesting facts:

Reflective catshark eye.    Photo: Ocean Explorer, NOAA
Did you know that when a light shines on a catshark's eyes, they glow—similar to a cat's eyes. That's because cats and sharks have special light-sensitive eyes designed for hunting in near-darkness. The shark has a reflective layer of cells at the back of its eyes called the ‘tapetum lucidum’ (carpet of light) which allows it to see underwater in low light, and 10 times better than humans can!

Greenland shark eye parasite.  Photo source: Real Monstrosities
Did you know that the Greenland shark, which is found in the seemingly lonely Arctic, can be found with a "buddy" - a parasite that lives on the shark's eye and eats away at it. This parasite can even cause blindness, but most sharks seem unaffected by having a permanent eye tassle!

Shortfin mako shark.
Did you know that the Mako shark can reach speeds of up to 100km/hour AND jump out of the water repeatedly (so it's not just Great Whites that can do it!)

Jumping Mako.     Source: Herald Sun
Did you know that the Tiger shark is also known as the garbage can with fins because of all the weird things that they've found in their number plates!

Tiger shark.                   Photo: Albert Kok.

Display of Tiger shark stomach contents at the California Academy of Sciences.  Photo:

So now that you know a little more about sharks, I hope you're even more fascinated with them.

Have a great week Sea Fans and chat soon!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015


Hi Sea Fans!

You might think that they are ugly, have a horrible texture when in your mouth and they don't seem to do much...but you're wrong!  Oysters are high in calcium, iron and protein and once you've got past the 'ickyness" of the flesh, they're quite tasty.  Ask all the posh people, they love to eat oysters :)

I don't want to talk about eating my ocean buddies though, I want to tell you about the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) who I visited recently.  I got to have a look at what they are doing to help the Chesapeake Bay.
Me with Flat Shelly, the ORP mascot.
Let's first find out a bit more about oysters though:

There are true oysters (food oysters) and pearl oysters, but the food oysters can produce pearls too.  Oyster shells are usually pear or oval in shape, but it depends on what they attach themselves to.  I've seen a few that can't be described as any shape!  They have a whitish-grey outside shell and on the inside they have a porcelain white inside shell.  They've got strong muscles that close their shells when they are threatened and they feed by drawing water over their gills and eating the titbits floating around in the water.

Each adult oyster, on average, filters 189 litres (50 gallons) of water a day! Check out this video which shows you how these filter feeders clean up the water:

Not only do oyster reefs purify the water, but they also create ideal habitats (homes) for a number of other animals (crabs, fish etc).  This is why ORP is getting people together to restore oyster reefs:

In order to restore the reefs though, they need shells for the spat (baby oysters) to grow on,
so ORP came up with shell recycling where restaurants get involved by collecting their used oyster shells for the reefs.
Collected oyster shells.
A ship full of oyster shells about to wash them overboard to make another reef.
What a great idea!

I ended my visit with ORP by taking a visit to the Horn Point Lab hatchery in Cambridge, MD - which is the world's largest oyster hatchery of the species called C. virginica.  I couldn't believe it when I learnt that in the 2014 oyster planting season, over 800 million spat-on-shell was produced in the lab and planted back in the local waterways!

ORP work together with scientists to learn better ways to grow oysters and restore oyster reefs, they teach the public how they can help and they work with those people who make the laws so that oyster restoration is encouraged.  I love it when people work together to help our animals!  

If you'd like to find out more, go to:

Thanks to Bryan Gomes for having me.

Have a great week Sea Fans!
Chat soon.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Hi Sea Fans!

How funny...I've just been past the fish kitchen and saw a whole bunch of kids
on a behind-the-scenes tour holding their noses!  They think that it stinks - ha
ha ha!  We've all gotten so used to the smell of fish that we don't smell it
anymore.  Fresh fish doesn't smell fishy, but our fish bins that have been sitting
with old bits in for a day don't smell as fresh.

That smell must really stick to us because I've even had a shopkeeper crinkle
up her nose and sniff the air like there's something stinky when I've gone to pay
for something - not great, but if she knew what I got to do all day, I'm sure
she'd wish she could smell like me! : )  Smelling like fish is a small price to pay
when you get to work with turtles,
A baby turtle we rehabilitated and released back into the sea when it was bigger.
Watching a baby penguin grow up is so fulfilling and rewarding.
Hiding mussels and urchins in the sand for these guys makes them look for their food the way they would in the wild.  Very entertaining for the public!
and other amazing animals.
See the pink wormy thing on his head?  That's what he uses as bait.  He wriggles it around to lure food fish closer and when they're close enough...he gobbles them up.
The musselcracker...boy, does this guy have some serious teeth!
A pop-eyed scorpionfish.  They sit so still and then when prey swim by, they're lightning fast!
Enjoy visiting your local aquarium and checking out the hidden lives of all the fishies Sea Fans!  

Chat soon.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Sapphire Coast, Australia

Hi Sea Fans!

Australia is such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly! 
Blue Mountains, New South Wales.  (Photo: Anne Dirkse
My latest stopover was the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre (SCMDC) in Eden, NSW, where I was lucky enough to go to the Eden Whale Festival.  I went on a whale watching cruise with Cat Balou in Twofold Bay and was named captain for a day!   

At SCMDC I joined the education programs and chatted to the students about their favourite marine animals.  
In between, I got to know all the animals in the tanks (I got up close and personal with the octopus…I think he liked me. I could sit for hours at the tank just watching him swim and play, they really are amazing animals) 
and discover their marine artefacts.

The staff and visitors were so nice to me and I loved every minute of my visit.   Thanks Jillian Riethmuller for hosting me!! (

I was sad to leave the coast and all my new friends, but we can always stay in touch through the internet.
So long Sapphire Coast, hello Dolphin Discovery!
This hoodie for a wetsuit was a bit big!

Have a great week Sea Fans!
Chat soon.

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