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

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