Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fishy Business

The opalescent squid have hatched!!! After tending to the squid egg pods for over four weeks the work sure has paid off. In the last few days we have greeted approximately 100 new squid, about the size of a rice grain, to the Ucluelet Aquarium. They are residing in the jellyfish tank as they hatch and learn to fight the currents. Already it is evident that they are grouping together when swimming as would be the case in the wild. Their pigment spots, or chromatophores, are visibly contracting and altering the overall colour of these juvenile squid. It is interesting to note that squid have no free larval stage- after hatching as juveniles they will continue to grow and mature until reaching adult size and proportions. We expect the squid to continue to hatch in the coming days and look forward to seeing the overall results.
A juvenile squid releases ink from the already developed ink sac in response to sudden water currents [Aquarium Staff]

Juvenile squid swimming in circles after hatching one day previous. [aquarium staff]

Today we enjoyed the Canada Day celebrations hosted by the District of Ucluelet. Activities for the kids included arts & crafts and games. Free hot dogs, live music and stands from Parks Canada and local businesses were also there. Aquarium staff hosted a squid dissection and face-painting table- both were a fun success with both kids and adults from Canada and around the world.

We have a new exhibit under construction that emphasizes the impact that plastic waste has on our ocean and our environment. It is important to realize the aquarium (and our whole way of life!) would be impossible without plastic, but that it does not decompose and can have detrimental effects when not discarded with care.

With the warm water being maintained by the excellent weather we have seen many animals responding differently. The California sea cucumbers, for instance, celebrated the heat by broadcast spawning in the tanks. When examined under the microscope the collected samples suggested most were males, releasing their sperm into the water. They do this in the same manner as sea stars and some snails, hoping that with luck the broadcasted egg and sperm will connect to allow eventual larvae development.

California Sea Cucumbers release gametes into the water during a broadcast spawn session [Mary Vasey]

Happy Canada Day everyone!!!

- Mary Vasey, Interpreter


Anonymous said...

Congrats on all your little squidlets! and a happy Canada Day to all of you at the aquarium! looking forward to seeing you all again soon!

Stefan said...

Great Post! I love the video of the little squid. Any chance of some video showing their schooling behaviour?


fns said...

oh my, the opalescent squids are hatching! i remember when one particular o-squid hatched at the UMA in 2005 and we named him Parallel Parker 'cause he just scooted back and forth in a straight line all day. so precious he was. have fun with them squidlets...