Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hagfish...dead or alive!

Hi Sea Fans!

Seeing as it is school holidays back home, I thought I'd better blog.  I haven't done much lately on this side except sit in a lot of airports waiting!  So instead of me sending you pics of the airports and me asleep, I thought I'd tell you a story or two about the animals that you may come across at your aquarium.

This same sort of thing has most likely happened at other aquariums so feel free to let me know (by commenting at the end of this blog) if you've had the same response from the public or if you were the public member who thought/said this.  (Don't feel embarrassed, nothing is a stupid question or comment.)


Hagfish are very interesting, but at the same time boring animals.

Interesting because:

  • They're fascinating eel lookalikes that produce (make) a slime that earned them the Afrikaans name of "Snotvis" ("vis" means fish and I'm sure you can figure the rest out  :))  
  • They eat all sorts of marine animals...dead or alive... and when they do, they make pigs of themselves by burying their faces deep into the carcass/body, forming a tunnel.  
  • They can tie themselves into knots to get out of sticky situations.
  • They don't have any bones!!  Their skulls are made of cartilage.
Boring because:
  • They sit very still and don't do very much unless there is food.  This is why many aquarium visitors think that the hagfish are dead when they get to the exhibit.  They mostly lie motionless on the bottom of the exhibit...not overly exciting, but cool animals if you know what they can do!


Green sea turtle.  Photo: Alexander Vasenin
One of my favourite animals to work with.  They seem so stupid and awkward, but if you have food in your hand, you'll be amazed at what they're willing to do for it!!  Training sea turtles to come to the surface and beach themselves for medical procedures (for the vet to check on them) is actually quite easy.  They aren't always that active on display though and so, like with the hagfish, people mistake them for being dead when they're just resting.  We had a green turtle once that used to lodge itself under the rockwork and people used to think that he was stuck and going to die.  In the mean time, he was "just chilling".

These are just two examples of what people think they see and what's actually happening.  There are so many stories like this, but if the public don't ask, then how will they know?!  Next time you're visiting your local aquarium, don't be shy, ASK!!!  We'd rather have a concerned person asking about an animal than visitors who don't care and just walk by.  You never know, maybe there IS something wrong.  Fish jump, fight, eat each other and do some strange things, so your observations (what you see) may just help us to look after our animals.

Have a great week Sea Fans and those of you that are in South Africa: enjoy the school holidays and visiting your aquarium!

}( *)8

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Aquarium opens - want to find out how all the animals got there?

Hi Sea Fans!

I'm always talking about what goes on in an aquarium and trying to get you behind the scenes as much as possible so here is a clip I came across that tells you more about how new animals are brought into an aquarium:


}( *)8