Hello, everyone. I am both happy and a little sad to present my final weekly update. Unfortunately, I’ve been busy with real life matters that are demanding more and more of my attention, and since my workload won’t be decreasing anytime soon, I’ve decided to discontinue this project to focus on other things. I didn’t intend for this to end so soon, but hey, life happens.
Since this is my last update, I thought it would be fitting to feature my favorite aquarium creatures that never got a chance to shine, complete with some background info for each one.
This is a lion’s mane nudibranch. They’re fairly common in kelp forests, and my boss often finds them during his shrimp collections. They use their hoods to snare prey, and the ones at SMPA are fed with brine shrimp and the occasional fish powder. That matter you see inside its body is its last meal.
This is our ocean whitefish, a resident of the “Under the Pier” exhibit. Whitefish are usually a creamy-white color, but this one is an unusual and ironic shade of black. It’s the most dominant fish in the tank and will often attack the algae scrubs when we try to clean the glass. (Also, the fish behind it is a kelp seabass)
Another abnormally colored animal is our red swamp crawfish. While most of our stock is saltwater natives, the red swamp crawfish is neither saltwater nor native. As an invasive species, it is used as the designated bad guy for our field trip presentations, but who could hate that rare shade of blue?
Here’s our scorpionfish. It has stingers all over its body, and its venom is said to be like that of a rattlesnake’s. If you go fishing in California waters, you better hope you don’t catch one of these. The only safe way to get rid of it would be to cut the hook. They do sell protective gloves that are supposed to be stinger proof, but even these sometimes fail.
And here’s our stargazer, who is located in the back room. It used to be on display, but was removed because the guests apparently found it boring (???). Nowadays it spends its time gazing at the stars, wondering where the roof went.
And now we’re getting into my favorite creature in the aquarium: the keyhole limpet! There are a bunch of these things in the touch tanks, and the above photo is one of the very first I took as an intern. I love gastropods in general, but there’s just something about the little keyholes in particular.
Just like most of our sea snails, they feed on kelp, and their backside is usually covered by a slimy black mantle. However, the limpet that lives in our “Rocky Reef” exhibit always has its mantle fully retracted for whatever reason. Here’s a photo of it:
Also, the keyhole is used to expel waste. Good luck getting that image out of your head.
Lastly, I would like to present our newest addition:
This is a bell jellyfish, and several of them are now sharing a tank with the planktonic jellies I showed off last week. They’re known in scientific circles as “Polyorchis,” which means, “many testicles”. I… wish I was joking, but it presumably refers to the eyes lining their rim. Just like their snowflake-shaped tank mates, they’re happy to feed on brine shrimp.
There you have it, folks. I wish I could’ve kept this thread going a bit longer, but the good news is that I at least managed to share my favorite aquarium facts. That said, I appreciate everyone who took the time to read these posts and learn about my experiences. I’ll still be reading replies for another day or two, but after that, I’m off to bigger and better things. Cheers!