Monday, May 18, 2015

Belize 2015 | Giant Ocean Tank and Giant Ocean

Staff from the New England Aquarium are traveling to Belize as part of a long-term research program by Aquarium scientist Randi Rotjan, PhD, to monitor coral health near Carrie Bow Cay. Today's post comes from diver Sean Marden.

This is my second trip to Carrie Bow Cay in Belize. One of the things that I love about coming here is having the opportunity to observe animals that are similar to species we have in the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) but are also a little different. We have about 1500 different animals in the GOT from 130 different species. That is a lot of diversity, but in the oceans you can find even more!

We have two loggerhead turtles in the GOT and both of them are adult females. Our loggerheads came to the Aquarium through our rescue program so we do not know exactly how old they are.

Loggerhead in the Giant Ocean Tank

This ancient looking loggerhead came upon us during one of our dives. Unlike the GOT loggerheads this fellow is a male and is quite large, easily several hundred pounds. I don't know how old this guy is but he sure looks like he has seen a lot! He did not seem to mind our presence as he swam on through our group.

Loggerhead in Belize

The GOT is also home to several jackknife fish. These distinctive-looking fish really stand out in the exhibit and are one of my favorites.

Jackknife fish in the Giant Ocean Tank
Jackknife fish swoop underneath one of the loggerheads in the Giant Ocean Tank!

With a little bit of searching I found a spotted drum, a close relative to the jackknife fish. This guys really stand out with their bold white and black coloration. We have exhibited spotted drums in the past but currently we don't have any in the exhibit.

Spotted drum in Belize

Finding this species in the wild is exciting for me because it highlights how many surprises, both big and small, are still out there in the oceans. Our work in Belize will hopefully help quantify that, and shed light on the impact of establishing protected areas in our oceans.

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