Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bahamas 2014 | Heading South

The centerpiece of the New England Aquarium is the 200,000-gallon Caribbean coral reef exhibit known as the Giant Ocean Tank. The massive reef soars through all four floors of the building and hosts hundreds of marine animals—from undulating eels and sleek barracuda to lumbering sea turtles and flitting wrasses.

Giant Ocean Tank
This vibrant ecosystem engages visitors not only with its movement and diversity, we also hope to inspire people to take action to protect vulnerable reefs in the wild—places that many visitors may never be able to experience in person.

Divers hand-feed many of the smaller fish in the Giant Ocean Tank

Many of the animals in this tank have lived here for decades. Myrtle the green sea turtle arrived in 1970. Some of the long-living tarpon, permits and jacks—those huge, silvery fish that race around the periphery of the reef—have been here for more than 30 years. But we occasionally have to add smaller fish to the exhibit to maintain healthy population levels. These are common fish we carefully collect by hand in the Bahamas, under special permits from the Bahamian government. Then the extra-special cargo flies up to Boston to undergo a standard quarantine period in our off-site facility. Finally, they are transitioned into life on a new reef—the Giant Ocean Tank!

Aquarium staff diver Chris Bauernfeind | Photo by trip participant Dave Waller

We've just returned from a trip to the Bahamas to collect some fish destined for the big tank. Come along for the journey. Over the next couple posts we'll introduce you to some new divers passionate about protecting our blue planet, share pictures and information about interesting fish and explain what it takes to transport fish from the Bahamas to Boston. It took months of planning and a lot of hard work, but it's an immensely gratifying experience. And the best part is, we get to share some of the beauty of our blue planet with you!

Stay tuned for posts from staff diver Chris Bauernfeind, aquarist Jackie Anderson and even some guest posts from trip participants.

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