Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two young Pacific Halibut join the Ucluelet Aquarium's 2013 collection!

The 2013 season started off with a bang!  Hundreds of visitors passed through the coast for the annual Pacific Rim Whale Fest.  The Ucluelet Aquarium hosted a number of talks during the festival with great turnouts to each one.  
Whale fest talk by VIU researcher Dr.  Jane Watson on Sea Otters in the Ucluelet Aquarium

We have new species this year which are 1st time collections for the Ucluelet Aquarium.  Two young Pacific Halibut are roving the Ucluelet Aquarium's Great Tide Pool.  The 18" and 20" specimens were donated two weeks ago by Rodney Hsu and Big Bear Salmon Charters who caught the species near Long beach.
  Like all flatfishes, halibut species are laterally compressed.  This means their body is flattened from the side (imagine lying on your side and having a steam roller turn you into a pancake).  There are two main classifications of flatfishes, the Pacific halibut falls into the Pleuronectidae family, which typically has right-eyed flatfishes.
  When a Pacific halibut hatches from its egg, it has a similar body structure to many other fishes.  As it develops, the bones in its face develop at different rates, causing the eye on the left side to become pushed out and migrate across the head to the right side.  This allows the halibut to lie on its side, blending perfectly with the substrate, while still watching with both eyes for predators and prey.

Also new to the Ucluelet Aquarium are our summer staff!!  We have Marlie, returning for another season; Jessica, who volunteered with us last year; and Andrew and Carly, who're joining us from Bamfield.  

Marlie and Carly... cleaning and helping in the ukee aqua.

These 4 new and returning faces have been helping us care for our new species, which were collected during the beginning weeks of March, and will stay with us till next fall.  Check back around September to find out when our Release Days will be!

Felix - our little "pentapus" out of his cave and looking relaxed

  We of course have a large Giant Pacific octopus, but we're lucky to have a second GPO which was caught accidentally in a lingcod trap.  When he originally arrived here he had lost three of his arms.  Over the last month he's been healing up well, eating regularly and has lately begun coming out during the day and showing off to visitors.