Friday, June 13, 2008

How aquariums get their fish

Have you ever wondered how aquariums get those fantastic fish you see on display? Now you can "join" a New England Aquarium collecting trip to the Bahamas as Aquarium President Bud Ris shares his experiences and thoughts on the New England Aquarium's fun and informative blog(s).

Some highlights:

The catch
So, how did we do? 377 fishes, 58 different species; 153 invertebrates, 44 species. We feel pretty darn good about this collection. In fact, everyone is extremely pleased! Among the wonderful animals we'll be loading on to airplanes for shipment back to Boston tomorrow are:

4 indigo hamlets.

Two moray eels: a goldentail and a purplemouth.

Three trumpetfish which will complement the one trumpet now on exhibit in the GOT.

One cowfish, a juvenile, that we can't yet identify definitively.

One yellow stingray headed for the new temporary "shark and ray touch tank" we'll be installing on the east side of the Aquarium this summer.

Two basket stars (Astrophyton muricatum), fascinating invertebrates with intricate branching arms that fold up during the day and open at night, when they are used to filter plankton.

Five red snapping shrimp (Alpheus armatus), each about an inch long.
And catch and slow release (how animals are readied for display). See indigo hamlet at right, getting ready for its new gig in the aquarium.


Anonymous said...

I've been following this and have been extraordinarily jealous. I finally overcame my green-eyed bitterness though when I remembered what I have learned from the movies: eager young scientists + exotic trips = gruesome supernatural deaths.

Send me those pics and I'll throw them up on Zooillogix.

Mark Powell said...

Follow the links to NEAq's site, and the pix are there. Lost in expedition-land is always a possibility, I's in yer oshunz, lookin like meat.

Michelle said...

I'm actually pretty curious about how aquariums do get their fish, though not necessarily on a pragmatic level. Is there an ethical code that scientists and aquarium directors follow? Is it the case that people view aquariums as place to protect threatened species or is it expose people to nature in a controlled environment? Or maybe it's a little of both? Sorry for asking all these questions, but the title of your post really piqued my interest!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Mark!

I've really enjoyed reading these updates. The Aquarium has a very specific process that it uses for these kinds of trips. It was really interesting for me to see the work, planning, and ethical considerations that went into it.

Most major Aquarium acquisitions are done through trading with other institutions nowadays, and these trips are the exception.

The recent posts are some of my favorite because it deals with the way new fish are introduced to the tanks, and that is an extremely delicate process that I had always pictured as dumping a fish into a tank and saying "here you go fish, welcome home." Alas now, fish psychology comes into play.

Kate Wing said...

If you want to see more behind the scenes at the aquarium stuff, check out The California Academy of Sciences. They're documenting their move into an amazing new building, including descriptions of moving the fish and growing a new coral reef.

Michelle, you may want to look at the AZA accreditation standards, which require an "animal collection plan" for their certified institutions.