Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation

New Arrivals at Blue Planet Aquarium

Published

on

There’s been exciting times recently here at Blue Planet Aquarium, as we have had some new arrivals. When we get new arrivals its always an exciting time to be working in the Aquarium, however recently we’ve had some truly unique and unusual animals to join the rest of our collection of animals. So, this blog is going to be covering the newest members of the Blue Planet family, and why their uniqueness is so beneficial to our other animals.

The new animals in question are Sharks with one being from a species we already have at the aquarium and two being completely new to the aquarium. Here at Blue Planet Aquarium we’re constantly trying to educate our visitors and show them new ways to appreciate our underwater world and the animals that we have living on this planet we call home.

So, lets dive straight in (no pun intended).

We’re going to start today with an animal that we already have two of and have had at the aquarium for several years, we have one teenage male named Marty (Named after the zebra from the Madagascar film) and Stripes (Named after Racing Stripes) however this new one is still a very young Shark and is a female who we’ve named Deborah the Zebra.

This species is also a hugely popular species here at Blue Planet and I would probably say are a favourite of mine, I am of course talking about our Zebra Shark. Zebra Sharks are identified by their yellowish- brown colouration with a spotty pattern covering their body, people usually ask at this stage why they’re called Zebra Sharks if they have spots. They’re called Zebra Sharks because when they’re young they’ve got Black & White Stripes all the way down their body, similar to that of a zebra, this species also has the second longest tail in the Shark world after the Thresher Shark.

The long tail combined with their striped pattern makes them look similar to that of the White-banded Sea Snake which has also lead some scientists to believe that this species may mimic the snake to deter predators, if this is the case then this would be the first case of protective mimicry in Sharks. Zebra Sharks are also one of the few Sharks that we know exhibit parthenogenesis which means that this species can lay viable eggs without a male needed, however all the pups born through this process will all be females. Zebra Sharks have also been found to share a very close relation to that of the world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark, we know this as their DNA is very similar and the Zebra Shark shares very similar features.

Our Zebra Sharks are all hand fed and eat a wide variety of foods such as Mackerel, Whiting, Saury, Squid and hard-shelled food such as Razor Clam. They’re incredibly friendly and regularly come in to investigate what’s going on, they’ll often rest against us and seem to show interest in having physical contact with members of the dive team, however we try and limit this as they wouldn’t get it in the wild, although sometimes we have to in order to stop them from trying to steal all the food or keep them at a distance that we can work with.

The next new Shark member is our Zebra Bullhead Shark, this is one of the more unusual Shark species that we have. It’s a member of the of the Horn Shark Family which is the same family of sharks as the Port Jackson Shark, this shark is very striking as it has very obvious Black and White Stripes and even more unusually, a small spike on both the Dorsal fin and Second Dorsal Fin which is where the name “Horn Shark” comes from. In this species early stages of life, they have a very similar striped pattern as their adult stage however their black stripes are more of a reddish-brown.

This species in the wild feeds mainly on hard-shelled foods such as crabs and molluscs however they wouldn’t say no to fish, ours is fed on fish, squid, razor clam and Mussel. Here at Blue Planet Aquarium we have just one Zebra Bullhead and ours is a male, this shark along with the next species I’ll be talking about are not yet named as we are having our guests choose names for us. Zebra Bullheads lay eggs rather than live birth, like mammals, and this group of sharks is a very ancient group with a long fossil record, that date these sharks all the way back to the early Jurassic which was around 201 million years ago.

The last two species are some of my personal favourites, which are known as Wobbegong Sharks. The name Wobbegong comes from the aborigine word for “Shaggy Beard”, this has led to them being lovingly known as “Wobbies” in Australia and among Shark enthusiasts. We have two species of Wobbegong here at Blue Planet Aquarium we have one Western Wobbegong and one Spotted Wobbegong, they both look vastly different in their patterns and markings and are one of the most unique and unusual Shark species.

Wobbegongs are Ambush predators that lie motionless on, or in, the seabed, rocky overhangs, crevices and caves. They wait to allow their camouflage to help them blend in with their surroundings, they do this until fish and other small animals come within striking range for the best chance of a successful hunt. To add success to a hunt it has been observed with the Tasselled Wobbegong, that they take part in active luring behaviour which is something seen in animals such as the Frogfish or Alligator Snapping Turtle. This is done with the Shark wedging itself into a cave or crevice with its head at the entrance and the tail curled over the top of its head, they then wave their tail side to side to mimic another fish, this is done to create the illusion that the cave is safe and free from predators and its then that the Shark strikes, grabbing any fish that comes too close.

Here at Blue Planet we feed ours on Squid, Mackerel, Saury, Sprat, Sand Eel and Prawn and we feed them via long pole. We do this as the strike from a Wobbegong is so quick that the human eye cant register it straight away, this also allows us to mimic hunting behaviour by giving the food a “swimming motion” to it which allows the animals to pick their target and hunt for their food rather than just feeding them.

These sharks are really important to us here at the aquarium as not only are they amazing and beautiful but they’re unusual looks and nature make them a reference point to just how diverse and incredible the Shark family is, sure everyone knows what a Hammerhead and Whale Shark is and as amazing as they are its always humbling to be able to show our guests just how unusual the Shark family can be along with the amazing traits and behaviours that comes along with them.

So, there you have it, some wonderful new arrivals here at Blue Planet Aquarium with each one being as amazing as the last. When you’re next at Blue Planet keep an eye out for these amazing new arrivals and make sure to appreciate just how strange and unique they are. Keep an eye out for future new arrivals and I’ll see you in the next blog.

For more information about Blue Planet Aquarium please visit their website by clicking here.

Donovan is a Divemaster who currently works as a Shark Diver at Blue Planet Aquarium based in Ellesmere Port. Donovan’s passion lies with Elasmobranch’s (Sharks & Rays) and this passion has led him to work in South Africa with White Sharks for a short period. He also believes that education through exposure is the best way to re-educate people about Sharks. Follow Donovan at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Brendon Sing, Director of Shark Guardian (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Brendon Sing, Director of Shark Guardian, a UK Charity working for shark and marine conservation worldwide.

Brendon Sing is from South Africa and has been diving and researching sharks for over 25 years. Whilst achieving the highest qualifications in the scuba diving industry, he has been leading participants on shark diving expeditions from Africa to Asia with a strong focus on conservation, education and research. Together with his wife Liz, Brendon created Shark Guardian as a UK Charity in 2013. His goal is to inspire everyone worldwide to protect sharks – our ocean guardians. Shark Guardian has four main operational arms including (1) Conservation activities and campaigns, (2) educational programs and developing materials, (3) Research through citizen science and (4) shark diving expeditions.

Find out more at www.sharkguardian.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Australia plans to create world’s next two big marine parks

Published

on

The Australian Government has announced plans to establish two new marine parks around Australia’s spectacular Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands!

These will be the world’s next big marine parks, providing crucial protection to globally significant marine life in an area twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are uniquely Australian and globally significant – there’s nowhere like them on Earth.

Most famous for its annual red crab migration, Christmas Island is one of David Attenborough’s 10 natural wonders of the world. Its thriving rainforests, deserted beaches and fringing reef provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are Australia’s best-kept secret – our unspoiled tropical island paradise! Sitting at the top of an ancient sea mountain encircling a beautiful tropical lagoon, their azure waters are home to an incredible array of diverse marine life including tropical fish, corals, turtles, manta rays and dolphins.

Located thousands of kilometres north-west from Perth, in the vast Indian Ocean, there are few comparable unspoiled tropical island environments left in the world.

Creating world-class marine parks will provide crucial protection for a wealth of marine life, make a significant global contribution to the health of our oceans, and bring much-needed benefits to the people of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

It’s essential that the government embraces and respects the aspirations of the island communities, working collaboratively with them to co-design these marine parks. Healthy oceans and sustainable fishing are central to the local communities’ way of life, their culture and their livelihoods.

Help Save Our Marine Life Australia grow the movement to support these new marine parks for Christmas and Cocos – Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories – by spreading the word on Facebook.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular