Posts Tagged 'behind the scenes'

Animal Update – April 11

national aquarium animal update

Mary River Turtle in Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

A Mary river turtle is now on exhibit in our Animal Planet Australia exhibit!

Mary River Turtle

Australia’s largest species of freshwater turtle can only be found in the southeastern region of Queensland’s Mary River – the derivative of its common name. Due to its isolated range and a high pet trade demand for the species in the ’60s and ’70s, the Mary river turtle is currently one of the top 25 most endangered turtle species in the world.

Did you know? The tail of a Mary river turtle is lined with gill-like structures, which they use to extract oxygen from the water and remain submerged for long periods of time!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Update – April 4

national aquarium animal update

Neon Gobies in Atlantic Coral Reef 

Two neon gobies have been added to our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit!

national aquarium neon goby

Generally, neon gobies only grow to be about 1 inch in length.

Did you know? Gobies are cleaner fish! These animals can oftentimes be observed in grouped “cleaning stations” throughout the reef, where larger fish like damselfish or grunts can stop by for a quick parasite removal.

Gilded Triggerfish in Blacktip Reef

If you’ve tuned into Shark Cam lately, chances are you’ve spotted Blacktip Reef‘s gilded triggerfish!

national aquarium gilded triggerfish

The gilded triggerfish, also known as the blue-throated triggerfish, can be found throughout the reefs of the Indo-Pacific. This is one of approximately 40 species of triggerfish identified worldwide.

Triggerfish are normally shy and solitary, but they can be very aggressive. Some may charge or attack intruders. When hiding from predators, triggerfish lock themselves into small openings with their trigger fin and bite down on the coral or rock to ensure their safety.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Update – March 28

national aquarium animal update

Balloonfish in Lurking

A balloonfish has been added to our Lurking exhibit!

national aquarium balloonfish

Balloonfish are mostly nocturnal animals, spending most of their nights feeding on a mixed diet of mollusks, sea urchins and crabs.

Did you know? Balloonfish have fused teeth, especially designed to crush through the shells of their prey!

Like other species of pufferfish, this species will fill with water and expand to nearly twice its size when threatened.

Wolf Eel in Kelp Forest

A small wolf eel has nicely settled into our Kelp Forest exhibit!

national aquarium wolf eel

Did you know? Wolf eels are not actually eels, instead they part of the Anarhichadidae family of “wolf fishes.” These animals are fairly solitary and territorial – they have even been observed in the wild biting at sharks to keep them out of their caves!

This fish lives in the North Pacific from the Sea of Japan, to islands off the coast of Alaska, to the coast of southern California.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Rescue Update: 11 Turtle Patients Ready for Release

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Our Animal Health and Animal Rescue staff have been busy continuing to care for the 19 cold-stunned sea turtles currently in rehabilitation. Over the last three months, many of our patients have been treated for critical conditions, including: fungal and bacterial pneumonias, infections in their flipper joints and severe shell lesions.

I’m happy to announce that we currently have 11 turtles that are no longer on medications and are considered stable! We are now working with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the state of Florida to schedule a release date in the near future!

All the stable turtles have been getting full exams that will act as pre-release screening  exams, which include recheck radiographs, blood work, physical exams, and tagging. All releasable turtles must be tagged in some way – either metal flipper tags, a PIT tag (a microchip like your domestic dog/cat might have), or both. The metal flipper tags are applied to the rear flippers and are the equivalent of getting your ears pierced.

sea turtle tag

These tags will stay with the animals for many years after release, but may eventually fall out as they corrode or as the turtle grows. As a more permanent method of identifying the animal, we implant a small microchip under the skin that will stay with the animal indefinitely. These forms of ID are passive ways researchers can track released turtles and provide insight to migration patterns, foraging areas and past medical history.

Meet some of our patients ready for release! 

Chipper

This green sea turtle stranded in Ocean City, MD as a cold-stun and arrived to the National Aquarium with a dangerously low body temperature of only 37o F. A temperature this low in sea turtles can be fatal, and our staff had to be careful to warm the turtle very slowly over several days. In fact, he was so cold on admittance, that in order to prevent his body temperature from rising too quickly, we actually had to utilize ice to stabilize his temperature.

national aquarium animal rescue turtle

Chipper has amazingly made a full recovery. He was prescribed long-term fluid therapy to combat blood changes due to the cold-stunning, but otherwise has had a clean bill of health.

Goose

Goose is a Kemp’s ridley that was cold-stunned in Cape Cod and transferred to us by the New England Aquarium. Goose is the smallest turtle this season – he was admitted weighing less than 2 lbs, and is now over 3.5 lbs! He was treated for anemia (low iron), a high white blood cell count, and mild pneumonia.

While Goose is the smallest turtle we currently have in rehabilitation, he has a big personality and makes our staff laugh. He’s not ashamed to scavenge small pieces of produce from his green sea turtle neighbors, even though Kemp’s ridley’s don’t typically eat plant-based foods.

Jester

Jester is a Kemp’s ridley that also came to us from New England Aquarium. He was treated for pneumonia, shell lesions, and mild skin lesions.

national aquarium animal rescue

Jester has gained 2 lbs on a diet of squid, shrimp, capelin, and crab while in rehab!

Stay tuned for details on their upcoming release! 

Animal Update – March 14

national aquarium animal update

Purple Urchins in Surviving Through Adaptation

Five purple sea urchins have been added to our Surviving Through Adaptation exhibit.

national aquarium sea urchin

Did you know? Sea urchins are sometimes referred to as sea hedgehogs! These spiny animals are echnioderms – they’re related to sea stars, sand dollars and sea cucumbers.

Sea urchins have movable spines that are used mostly for protection. Depending on the species, the spines can be solid, hollow or filled with poison!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!


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