First Day at the New School!

Different types of fish are known for their coordinated movements that make themselves look like one big, shimmering blur. This behavior, known as schooling, is an effective way of avoiding predators! It’s very difficult for predators to pick out one fish, separate it from the group and chase it down. And while visitors can see this behavior in lots of exhibits, it’s on full display in the Schooling exhibit!

Close-up of the school. How many fish do you see?

Blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis, have been a staple of the Schooling exhibit, showcasing the ability of a fish species to act as one collective unit. After a recent group of herring grew too big for the exhibit, they were moved to a larger exhibit at the Montreal Biodome (where some of our young researchers studied wolffish). This made way for a new school!

In October of 2012, Aquarium staff and volunteers headed to Buzzards Bay to collect some new exhibit animals. After being granted a special permit by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries, the crew used seine nets to catch close to 2,500 young fish! Having lived and grown behind the scenes for over a year, it was time for them to make their big splash.

Young herring in the holding exhibit

How do you move approximately 2,500 fish from one tank to another? With lots of help! Fortunately, the holding tank and exhibit are only a few short steps away from each other, making the process a little easier. Two aquarists would gather small batches of fish inside the holding tank. Once a batch was collected, the fish were transferred in bags to a waiting group of helpful staff and volunteers. With some quick, careful steps the fish were at their final destination.

Lots of helpful hands make moving easy!

Ready to move!

Once the humans, and the fish, reached the exhibit, the bags of fish were gently lowered into the water. In position, the bags were opened and the new inhabitants would be off—the fish quickly swimming to join the rest of the school. It was then back to the holding tank to repeat the process many times over!

A new batch of herring are added to the exhibit!

And they are off!

It was amazing to see the new school come together! The herring seamlessly swam together, acting as a united group. And as they are still growing, Aquarium visitors will have lots of time to see this new shimmering blur of herring, swimming past the window in the newly stocked Schooling exhibit!

The new herring getting used to their new home!

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment