8 posts from July 2012
July 26, 2012
July 25, 2012
There’s no better place than the sunken ray pool in Wild Reef to see how the fiddler ray got its common name. The disk and large pelvic fins form the familiar figure-8 shape, and the long tail resembles a violin’s neck, complete with peg box (represented by the two prominent triangular dorsal fins that identify this species) and scroll (the caudal fin). The eyes and spiracles (small openings in front of the eyes that allow the ray to take water into its gills when it’s at rest on the ocean floor) can almost pass for the f holes, or perhaps the fine tuners. (The illustration of the fiddler ray was done by virtuoso staff graphic designer Sally Smith.)
Appropriately, at least for our Jazzin’ at the Shedd series, the fiddler ray is in the same taxonomic family as the guitarfish.
July 17, 2012
You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger percussion section than the drums, or the Sciaenidae family, which includes 275 species of freshwater and marine fishes found in temperate and tropical waters throughout the world.
And we mean percussion literally. The males have special tendons that vibrate against the swim bladder, producing a sound underwater similar to a drum beating in the distance. It is most likely a rhythmic love call to the female of the species. (If you remove a drum from the water, the distressed fish will bellow like a bullfrog, earning it another common name, croaker.)
July 16, 2012
July 14, 2012
Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes—so make sure they’re positive ones! Every month, Shedd’s Right Bite team highlights a sustainable seafood item as our Fish of the Month. July’s pick is US-farmed crawfish, and I have a dish that will bring Louisiana to your kitchen— crawfish po’ boys. Also, don’t miss out on a recipe for crawfish etouffee from Chef Paul Fehribach of Big Jones. His Andersonville restaurant is one of Shedd’s sustainable seafood restaurant partners in the Chicago area; click here to view the full list.
July 11, 2012
This fish isn’t with tonight’s band, the Chris Greene Quartet, nor has it appeared, as far as we know, at the Green Mill Lounge, Uptown’s fabled jazz club. And, we confess, it does not sing, scat or otherwise.
But we love the green scat’s name—brought to our attention by collection manager Kathy Lee, a ready resource for so many of our animal blog series.
July 04, 2012
The Local Waters gallery lays down a heavy bassline, but we’re talking bass with a short a, not a long one. To the non-angler, our native largemouth, smallmouth, white and rock basses all might look like largish silver-gray-brown fishes, but that would be hitting a wrong note. Let’s give each a solo in the spotlight with a gallery tour conducted by senior aquarist Kurt Hettiger.
July 03, 2012
On Sunday, in Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit, aquarium staff members and special guests marked a historic day for the state of Illinois and international shark conservation. House Bill 4119, sponsored by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn against the backdrop of Shedd’s 400,000-gallon shark habitat. It will ban the sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins in the state of Illinois. Supporters of the legislation, including the Center for Oceanic Awareness Research and Education, the Humane Society of the United States and the Natural Resources Defense Council were present for the bill signing. Shedd's Executive Vice President of External Affairs & Communications Roger Germann gave opening remarks, while Senior Aquarist Heather Thomas closed the ceremony by placing the importance of shark conservation into context.