Monday, June 15, 2009

Life is the bubbles!!

Take it from me, there is a lot going on down here at the Whiskey Dock promenade as summer gets into full swing. Lots of new specimens have been brought in and are settling down in their summer homes. Some of our most exciting newbies include the quickly-developing squid eggs and the grooved tanner crab.

The squid eggs have been with us now for almost three weeks and have recently gone through some major growth spurts. Individual squid are surrounded by an egg membrane and then further enclosed
in long pods by the hundreds . The little squidlets are now a whopping millimeter long and have defined eyes, arms, mantles, pigment spots, and a shrinking yolk sac as somewhat visible in the following photos/videos taken using the aquarium microscope. These opalescent squid generally grow to no larger than 20 centimeters during their short 4-9 month lifespan. We can expect that they will be approximately half a foot long by the end of summer.

On a larger note, the seven grooved tanner crabs that are now residing with us live quite differently. They are a deep-dwelling crab brought to us by the always-awesome Sena II crew. Hauled up from 300 fathoms, or 1800 feet deep, their bulging broad abdomens indicate that all of these bright orange beauties are pregnant females. In The Deadliest Catch television show the crabbers are catching a very similar looking but much larger crab, the Alaskan king crab.

Founder of the Ucluelet Aquarium Society and very experienced commercial diver Phillip Bruecker is in town so the aquarium has been getting lots of new critters, including a stubby rose anemone. This anemone closely resembles the red fish-eating anemone, but has much shorter tentacles and settles by burrowing into fine substrate and expanding its base to anchor itself. A bright-striped painted greenling has also found its way to our waters along with a couple of yellowtail rockfish, lingcod, and a temporary visit from a ratfish. The female ratfish has a completely cartilaginous skeleton and is related to skates and shark as seen in their similarly boneless bodies.

Video off developing squid surrounded by egg membrane. Taken by aquarium staff several days ago using microscope and camcorder.

See you soon- we’ll get you hooked!

-Mary Vasey, Interpreter

Friday, June 5, 2009

All Warmed Up

With the sunshine sticking around Ucluelet the aquarium has really brightened up. A temperature increase means an increase in activity and responsiveness from the specimens. The giant Pacific octopus has been particularly rambunctious lately, much to the distress of the red rock crab. In the video below you can see the octopus playing around her tank while waiting to begin hunting her next feast.

The giant pacific octopus squints at observers while enjoying the tasty red rock crab [Mary]

As usual the aquarium had their awesome volunteers from the community come by after school. Today's activities included specimen collecting from the shore and off the docks, feeding, and simply adding to the exciting atmosphere of the aquarium.

Two great volunteers, Kai and Mickayla, drop by to check on the specimens they collected [Mary]

Indicators of the warming waters are apparent in all animals, not just the large flashy ones. Here you can see a burrowing orange sea cucumber bringing feeding branches into its mouth one by one. It is essentially licking its fingers after catching floating particles in the currents.

See you soon!

-Mary Vasey, Aquarium Interpreter