Grouper Goes Home

The health of our animals is something we take very seriously at the Aquarium. If an animal requires medical care, we can many times treat those injuries or illnesses while the animal remains on exhibit. Sometimes, however, this isn’t possible. In these cases, the animals are taken out of their exhibit spaces and given some TLC behind the scenes.

Home Sweet Blue Hole

The Blue Hole exhibit, located on the second floor, has a number of resident goliath groupers. Recently, one grouper developed some health issues: it wasn’t eating normally and had some trouble regulating its buoyancy. As the Blue Hole is one of the largest gallery exhibits, it would have been very difficult to treat the animal effectively while on exhibit. As a result, the grouper was placed in a large holding tank behind the scenes. After a couple of months of care and monitoring, the health issues cleared up and it was time for the grouper to head home!

Getting ready to leave the holding exhibit
Moving a goliath grouper, even a relatively small one, is no easy task! A team of staff and volunteers assembled in the morning and came up with a plan to move the fairly large fish out of holding and down the narrow hallway to its exhibit. Along the way, it would be weighed by the veterinarians to see how it had been growing.

Making sure everyone is on the same page

Once the plan was in place, it was time to capture the grouper in its temporary home. After just a few minutes, the staff was able to maneuver the large grouper into a long, black stretcher. This method of moving the fish was much easier than other methods! The behind the scenes work areas are very narrow, with not a lot of room to maneuver a big holding container. The stretcher was much easier for the staff...and the grouper.

Up and over!
Once the animal was lifted out of the holding tank, the veterinarian staff quickly weighed the grouper. The scale showed that the grouper weighed about 70 pounds! And while that is a good sized fish, it’s a relatively small goliath grouper, which have been known to grow up to 800 pounds!

Stretcher is placed on the scale to get a weight
After the weigh-in, the crew moved quickly, carrying the grouper down the hall and then lifted him into the exhibit. It’s a tight fit between the ceiling and the side of the exhibit, but the staff and volunteers did a great job.  Soon enough, the grouper was back home!

Quick dash to the exhibit
To make sure the transition went smoothly for the grouper, the staff remained in the exhibit, keeping a close eye on the fish. The grouper adjusted fairly quickly to its watery home, swimming to a resting spot among the blue hole stalagmites.

Making sure the grouper, located by the red arrow, is adjusting okay
After spending some time in this cozy location, the grouper took a spin around the exhibit before finding yet another cozy spot to rest. Once the staff was satisfied that the grouper was comfortable in the exhibit, it was time to leave and let the grouper settle in. Overall, quite a successful moving day!

Settled in back home


Lobsters: Not so neighborly

Lobsters have long been part of New England culture and lore. But how much do you know about lobsters' social lives? Turns out they are not so neighborly.

The orange lobster was featured in our fall colors post a couple weeks back, for obvious reasons.

Lobsters can be aggressive and territorial, each claiming a secretive dwelling among the nooks and crannies on the ocean floor. After a skirmish, a dominant (usually larger) lobster claims the top spot in its realm of influence. Other lobsters usually stay out of its way and avoid future confrontation.

Looks like the beautiful blue lobster knows its place in the lobster exhibit at the Aquarium. Watch it avoid the orange lobster as it skulks around the exhibit looking for a fight!

Upstairs from this exhibit in the Aquarium's research laboratory, scientists are working hard studying lobster shell disease. Researchers are also working to understand the science behind lobster shell colorations. Some genetic mutations create wild colors! Other shell colors can be determined by a lobster's diet. Those colors are on display in our lobster nursery in the Blue Planet Action Center.

Come visit the Aquarium because there's probably a lot of lobsters that you don't know yet!


Aquarium Close Up!

With so many exhibits, habitats, colors and patterns, not to mention animals, it's no wonder that visitors can find the New England Aquarium a bit overwhelming. However, if you slow down and take a closer look, amazing details start to pop out!

It takes practice to look a little closer. Here's a quick guide to start you off. Can you tell what each animal or exhibit is by just seeing a small piece? Take a guess using the pictures below...and then look below to see if you were right!

The nose knows...
One part...of five
Strong stuff!
Light the way?
I spy with my little eye...

Done guessing? Think you know what each item is or belongs to? Okay...let's see if you were right!

First up...the furry nose.
The nose knows...
Harbor seal!
If you think that furry nose belongs to one of our marine mammals, you would be right! The nose above belongs to one of our harbor seals. Located in the front of the Aquarium, our harbor seals look sleek underwater. But once they have some time to dry, particularly when they are molting and growing in a new fur coat, you can see their fur clearly.

The second closeup can be found in the tide pool touch tank. That's right, a sea star!

One part of the whole...four more parts to go!

If you take a close look, or better yet feel the surface, of the sea star, you'll notice small, raised bumps. These bumps help keep the skin of the star clean, which is important as their gills are on the surface!

The next set of items should look familiar-you have similar looking bones in your body, though much smaller in size. These large items are some vertebrae of the North Atlantic right whale skeleton!

Strong stuff!

Hanging above the penguin exhibit, the whale skeleton gives visitors an idea of how large these animals can be. With only around 500 of them left, New England Aquarium researchers work hard to document the population in the area. This skeleton has been at the Aquarium for quite some time and came from an animal stranded on a beach. [Get a feel for the work these right whale researchers do in the field, check out the Right Whale Research Blog!]

Okay, next one! Is it a strange, bioluminescent jelly? Sunlight off some glass panel? Nope! That glowing fin fits in on the shark wall!

Light the way?
See some sharks on the shark wall

This exhibit feature showcases the silhouettes of different shark species. Many visitors don't stop to take a look, but it's definitely worth checking out! The species depicted are full size, so it's a great way to compare the size of some larger species, including basking and white sharks, with smaller species like the spiny dogfish. It's not just a pretty wall covering-it's a well-lit way to learn about sharks!

Now...what about that eye...

I spy with my little eye...
Nassau grouper in the Giant Ocean Tank
Meet the Nassau grouper, one of 120 species inside the Giant Ocean Tank! These large fish hang out towards the bottom of the exhibit, resting near sandy trays or against coral structures. You may even find these larger fish being cleaned by cleaner gobies and wrasses. Keep an "eye" out for them at the bottom of the exhibit!

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the cool things the Aquarium has to offer, take a closer look! It's a great way to slow down and see some amazing animal or exhibit details you might not have seen before!