Thursday, July 28, 2011


Hi Sea Fans!

Nope, not sharks this time, but a pretty little fish called a Jawfish.  I got to see a brooding male when we went on a collecting trip so I thought I'd share this cute character with you:

Photo: Wikipedia
Male mouth brooding (the male fish actually keep their eggs in their mouths), burrow-building, and passionate courtship displays are a few of the interesting behaviours that make jawfishes so fascinating to watch. These little blunt-headed, big-mouthed fish inhabit the sandy seafloor where they build rock-lined burrows which take nearly 8 hours to complete! These burrows are where they spend most of their day, grabbing zooplankton from the current just above their burrow entrance and clearing away rubble that may have fallen into the chamber. From early spring to autumn, males incubate clutches of eggs inside their mouths. An easy way to spot a brooding male is to look for those fish that have bloated cheeks, hanging around at the entrance of their burrow. These little guys are not keen on diver spectators so the chances are very good that they will hide away the entire time that you are around, but if you’re patient, you may catch a glimpse of one little guy coming out and churning his mouthful of eggs. (This is when the eggs are spit out of the mouth and quickly sucked back in). Churning removes waste, aerates the eggs and allows the embryos to mix, so that all of them will have the chance to develop equally. What leads to these clutches of eggs, of course, is romance.  Jawfishes only take one partner (they’re monogamous) and the partners live in separate burrows very close to each other, with a third “Honeymoon Suite”.   Unlike most reef fish spawns that are very short-lived, the Yellowhead Jawfishes take their time. The male approaches the female many times, swooping down to her and arching his back whilst flaring his beautiful fins and opening his mouth like an opera singer – a real show-off! They then enter their third burrow together and a few seconds later, the ritual starts all over again.   These behaviours can keep divers fascinated for ages!  (and aquarists distracted on a collection trip!) : )

A lot of people don't realise how much they can see when they visit an aquarium - you could spend an hour at just one tank watching how the fish go about their business and if you see those fish every day like we do, it's very easy to pick up when something is wrong like a sick fish.  It's just like knowing your puppy really well.
Have a great week Sea Fans and enjoy watching fish behaviour next time you visit your aquarium.
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

White Death Shark

Now why would anyone want to name an animal this? I recently met a man who is trying to change this as well as the way people look at sharks and specifically the Great White.

Hi Sea Fans!

A bit of a different start to the blog today, but I thought I just had to give a taster of what’s to come. Can you believe that this is what the Great White Shark is called in Afrikaans?! Well, many people have started calling it the “Groot Wit Haai” which is a direct translation, but why not? Why must the Great White be seen as a DEATH shark? Since the movie JAWS, people have been scared out of the ocean’s waters when in fact, there are so many more human deaths that are caused by cars per year and even simple things like toasters have killed more people than sharks. 

Photo: Save Our Seas Foundation - Rethink the Shark Campaign

Let’s all stick together on this one and help our friends in the sea – they do what comes naturally to them, they are predators, but we are not a part of their food chain.  Great White Sharks are not swimming around looking for the next human to eat and besides, we eat so much junk these days, why would they want food with tartrazine, tons of sugar, MSG, preservatives and colourants? They want fish and marine mammals: they’re tastier and contain a lot less additives!

It’s funny how people get scared of something, but are still fascinated by it. How many of you “hate” snakes but if there’s a huge python or Boa Constrictor on offer for photographs, you’re the first in line to touch it?
Photo: Coventry Telegraph
Well, sharks are the same. So many people say that they don’t want to dive in the sea or go swimming at certain beaches because of the possibility of seeing a shark (Trust me, this doesn’t happen often, I’ve been diving for years and I haven’t seen many sharks.) The funny thing is, these are usually the first people who want to see the sharks at the aquarium, dive with them in a cage and touch them at the touch tanks.  One thing is certain, it’s the things you don’t know that you fear because the more you get to know about sharks (thanks to TV, aquariums and magazines), the less you fear them (this doesn’t mean that you don’t have a healthy respect for them)...and the more fascinating they become!

Let me introduce you to some cool sharks (and if you want to learn a whole lot more about different
sharks and other predators, you can buy my second book, Predators. Order online or mail me at and I’ll personally make sure you get one…and autograph it if you’d like).

The Basking Shark:

The Seven-gill Shark:
Photo: Derek Keats
The Zebra Shark:

So that’s it for today Sea Fans, have a great week and chat soon.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Porcupine Pufferfish or "Blaasoppie" in Afrikaans

Hi Sea Fans!

I'm not sure how many of you got to see the YouTube video of the craft that was done the same morning that Heidi did a reading so here it is:

The voice over is in Afrikaans so for those of you who don't understand it, here are a few points:
  • All you need is a paper circle for the body, long narrow triangles of colourful paper or magazine/newspaper, a few squiggly paper strips for the tail, glue, string and two eyes.
  • Follow what the lady is doing and remember to bend the triangles once you've glued them down so that they stick nicely and make the pufferfish look prickly.
  • Don't forget to do both sides.
  • Blaasoppie = Pufferfish........blaas = blow and op = up

     Photo: N Hobgood.
Have a great week Sea Fans!
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crafts, cupcakes, markets and a dog having storytime!

Hi Sea Fans!

I realised that I haven't given you an update for a while when I was looking through my photos, so here goes...  I found some really cute photos, check this out:Who would have thought that even a dog would enjoy storytime! : )
Snowy the Maltese Poodle enjoying "Predators".

Kirstenbosch Market
This was the final Kirstenbosch Market for the 2010/2011 season.  As you can see, we had to go back to the old tent because the gazebo got ripped up and taken away by the wind at the previous market.  We now also have small crochet animals called amigurumi (not for sale) - have a look on the internet, there are some really cute patterns.  Mine were made by my mom...some without a pattern!!!  I've got a jellyfish, a shark, a turtle, a butterflyfish, a clownfish, a lobster, an octopus, a seal, a penguin, a starfish, a manta ray, a sunfish and more coming.  Heidi takes these with her to schools when she gives talks so that everyone can see what the animals look like without needing to take the real thing!  Keep an eye out for these little guys, they're amazing!
Tiger Shark.
 A new addittion to the craft kits - the Tiger Shark!  There is a whole range of shark craft kits available now, from mobiles and pencils to dreamcatchers, door hangers and puzzles.  We have Tiger Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Thresher Sharks, Great White Sharks, Zebra Sharks, Shortfin Mako Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks.  If you'd like to know more about the craft kits, send me a mail at

Wall painting.
I saw this cute turtle on a friend's wall and so I asked her if she would be willing to paint one for me to advertise the books.  I now have a gorgeous cloth with a giant turtle on it to be used at events!

Petit fours.
I saw these cute little cupcake-type things at the bakery and just had to share them with you.  Apparently, the way you pronounce it/say it is: "Petty foi".  A posh way of saying that they are very sweet little cakes with an almond paste inside that most kids don't like the taste of! : )

Whale crafts.
Just in time for the whale season!  We now have Right Whale moneyboxes and puzzles and small whales for all the other crafts we already supply.  If you'd like to have a whale of a time, contact me at and I'll get the price list to you.  The crafts start at R20 and the most expensive at the moment is only R60 so it's a bargain for some fun!

So that's what's been happening and what's new this month.  Give me a shout if you want to know more and keep an eye out for Heidi, she may be at your school next term (Cape Town schools).

Have a great week Sea Fans!
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