Posts Tagged 'blacktip reef'



Happy Halloween from the National Aquarium!

From underwater pumpkin carving to themed enrichment (and snacks!), Halloween was celebrated to the fullest throughout the Aquarium today!

Here’s a re-cap of some of today’s activities:

Halloween-themed enrichment

Pumpkin carving in Blacktip Reef

In partnership with Discovery and Animal Planet L!VE, we broadcast our first-EVER underwater pumpkin carving from Blacktip Reef online via our Shark Cam! Didn’t get a chance to tune in live? Watch the carving here:

We hope everyone is having a safe and fun Halloween! 

The LAST Animal, a Napoleon Wrasse, Has Been Introduced into Blacktip Reef!

blacktip reef update national aquarium

We’re so excited to share that the LAST of our animals has been successfully introduced into Blacktip Reef!

Humphead Wrasse National Aquarium Blacktip Reef

Also known as a humphead or Maori wrasse (after a Polynesian group from New Zealand), this fish is found in reef habitats throughout the Indo-Pacific. This species of wrasse in particular can grow to be over six feet long!

This wrasse combs reefs in search of hard-shelled prey such as mollusks, sea stars and crustaceans – our aquarists keep the newest resident to Blacktip Reef on a similar diet!

National Aquarium, Blacktip Reef, Napoleon Wrasse

Napoleon wrasses have been known to live for over 30 years! It takes them 5-7 years to reach sexual maturity.

In the wild, this species’ population numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. This decline is due in major part to a high demand for this fish in the Asian luxury food market. Humphead wrasse meat can fetch up to $100 dollars per kilogram in Hong Kong. As a result of this recent and rapid population decline, the species has been listed under the Endangered Species Act and IUCN’s Red List.

 We hope you can stop by and meet the newest (truly stunning) resident of Blacktip Reef! In the meantime, look out for him on our live Shark Cam

Blacktip Reef Update: Wobbegong Sharks Now On Exhibit!

blacktip reef update national aquarium

Three wobbegong sharks were introduced to Blacktip Reef yesterday!

Blacktip Reef is now be home to one tasseled wobbegong and two ornate wobbegongs – two very beautiful and interesting shark species! They join 20 blacktip reef sharks and our two zebra sharks, Zeke and Zoe.

Wobbegongs, also known as carpet sharks, get their name from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “shaggy beard” – which refers to the growths around the shark’s mouth. These sharks can be found in the shallow, warmer waters of the Indo-Pacific.

wobbegong shark

Their bold, brown patterns keep the wobbegong well-camouflaged within the reef. Their ability to camouflage makes these animals great ambush predators!

Stay tuned for more updates as Blacktip Reef continues to evolve!

Animal Updates – October 4

More than 17,000 animals representing more than 750 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Meet our Queensland Grouper!

Our Queensland grouper, Bertha, is one of Blacktip Reef’s most distinguishable new residents! Since being introduced to her new home, Bertha has been happily exploring the nooks and crannies the reef – she especially loves the deep dive area!

national aquarium queensland grouper

Found in the warm waters of the Pacific, this large fish preys upon quite a variety of animals, including small sharks, rays, sea turtles, smaller fish, crabs and even spiny lobsters!

Measuring up to 9 feet in length and weighing around 800 pounds, Queensland groupers are the largest of reef bony fish species in the world! Apart from their sheer size, these fish can be easily recognized by their blotchy patterning and light yellow fins.

Check out this amazing footage of a giant Queensland grouper found off the coast of Heron Island (part of the Great Barrier Reef):

[youtube http://youtu.be/awxJRtYwDWc]

Did you know? Queensland groupers (like most other grouper species) are protogynous hermaphrodites! They start their lives as females and later will change sex once they hit sexual maturity.

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

Animal Update – September 27

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

animal update

Bi-color parrotfish in Blacktip Reef

Did you know? Bi-color parrotfish sleep in bubbles of slime. Before finding their sleeping spot within the reef for the night, the parrotfish spins a cocoon around its body. The slimy bubble protects the parrotfish from nighttime predators by hiding its scent!

national aquarium bicolor parrotfish

Parrotfish get their name from their beak-like teeth and bright coloration. They use their “beaks” to eat the algae that grows on and around coral.

When the coral rock has travel through the parrotfish’s digestive system (which extracts the needed nutrients from the algae), it comes out as sand! A large bi-color parrotfish can produce up to 2,200 pounds of sand per year!

This species is found throughout the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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

Federal Government Donates Confiscated Coral to the National Aquarium

A shipment of illegally imported corals intercepted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been donated to the National Aquarium.

The corals are being used as educational tools in our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, as well as for the Aquarium’s conservation outreach efforts, school science programs and fabrication templates.

blacktip reef education cart
The shipment, containing 20 pieces of Seriatopora hystrix (commonly known as birdsnest coral) and 22 pieces of Pocillopora damicornis (sometimes referred to as cauliflower coral), was intercepted by CBP at the port of Tampa, Florida. The corals were cut from the reefs off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Coral reefs are being threatened by human and environmental factors. Most species of coral are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and require foreign permits. This international agreement between governments ensures that international trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. CITES consists of 178 country signatories that protect species like coral worldwide.

As the nation’s border agency, CBP works closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that laws protecting endangered species are enforced at every US port of entry.

Corals play a critical role in the ecosystem as they provide spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding  habitats for marine species, protect against shoreline erosion and provide local benefits for fishing and tourism industries.

These authentic coral pieces have become important tools for our educators, who able to bring coral reefs to life for thousands of visitors every day! We’re able to show visitors the beauty of coral and the important role that corals play in our world!

Animal Update – September 20

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Meet one of Blacktip Reef’s most colorful residents – the harlequin tuskfish! 

Harlequin Tusk Fish

The harlequin tuskfish, a species of wrasse, can be found throughout the reef habitats of the Indo-Pacific (from the Red Sea to Australia).

Typically, the tuskfish will make its home in the sandy, shallow areas of coastal reefs. Their diet mostly consists of hard-shelled invertebrates, including small crabs and shrimp.

Harlequin tusk fish

Did you know? The harlequin tuskfish gets its common name from its bright coloration and sharp blue teeth!

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


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