When the Fishes department moved a leafy seadragon into the 4,700-gallon kelp forest habitat on the Abbott Oceanarium’s Coastal Walkway habitat, the aquarists watched closely to make sure that the more animated weedy seadragons didn’t slurp up all the live mysid shrimp before the leafy got his share. “That’s when we noticed that the leafy wasn’t eating on his own,” aquarist Erika Moss says.
Diagnosing an animal’s ailment is a lot like detective work. Because the animal cannot directly tell the veterinarian where it hurts, the doctor has to look for clues, from blood tests, digital X-rays and other evidence, and ask questions of key witnesses—the trainers—to solve the medical mystery.
Sea lampreys, Petromyzon marinus, were the Great Lakes’ first notorious invasive species. Originally from the Atlantic Ocean, they entered the Great Lakes through water diversions built for ships to bypass Niagara Falls. Able to survive in both fresh and salt water, these primitive fish may look like eels to the untrained eye, but they’re closer to vampires as they feed on the blood of host fishes.
It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Some of the most detrimental invasive species in the Great Lakes are small, attractively marked freshwater bivalves: zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis). They were unintentionally introduced in the mid-1980s by transoceanic cargo ships that drew them in with ballast water in Europe and, on arrival in the Great Lakes, flushed them as the boats restabilized with new freight. The rest is history.
At some point, you realize that the little guy, until August the youngest beluga, who you remember as being all gray and roly-poly and plush-toy-cuddly-looking, is lately so big that you can’t pick him out among the other belugas.
Nunavik, who turns 3 today, is undeniably a juvenile whale.
If you’ve seen Shedd’s new aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea, you know that Sagu (SAH-goo), our 6½-month-old Pacific white-sided dolphin calf (shown above on the left) gets into the act alongside his mom, Piquet. During the show, you’ll see him engaged in formal training. Lisa Takaki, senior director of marine mammals, says, “He seems to LOVE it and is very attentive—usually!”
Kenai, Shedd’s last surviving sea otter from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, was humanely euthanized Tuesday morning after a rapid decline in health. She was 23½ years old, an extraordinary age for her species.