Tag Archives: African Penguins

Spending my holidays at the Florida Aquarium

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I hope everyone has been enjoying their holidays because I certainly did!  I had a chance to spend some time with my family in Tampa, Florida and I had a chance to stop by to the Florida Aquarium!  I learned so much about the nutrition, health and well beings of the animals.  This Aquarium has recently went through renovations and there were so many interactive exhibits that was available to the public.

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Some of the interactive touching exhibits that I have went to was the Stingray Feeding tour.  The stingray is a flat fish that lives in the seas around the world and they prefer the temperate, shallow waters. They aren’t an active fish, spending their time mostly hiding in the sand. With their flat bodies, they don’t resemble a fish, which they certainly are, and their bodies are supported by cartilage rather than bones. They are basically nocturnal animals and this is why our knowledge of their feeding habits is quite limited. In captivity, they usually eat more things than in their normal habitat due to the fact that they can eat whatever they are fed.  They are carnivorous animals, more precisely predators, feeding on smaller fish and other sea creature that they catch at the bottom of the sea. Their diet consists of mollusks, clams, shrimps, snails and other species of fish. They don’t have a hard time catching their victim and due to their sandy color, they can hardly be detected. They can trap their prey with scarcely a problem, as they just wait for it to swim by. They don’t have strong eyesight and they must rely on their sense of smell when detecting their prey. 1

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I then went to the interactive touching exhibit of the Horseshoe Crab Lagoon.  I had a chance to touch these crabs.  Some of the facts about the Horseshoe Crabs are that these crabs are part of the Arthropods which are make up around 80% of the world’s animals, so it’s a highly successful class.  These creatures live in the ocean or in the sand and are often very beneficial to the environment.2 Horseshoe crabs are extremely important to the biomedical industry because their unique, copper-based blue blood contains a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate. The substance, which coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins, is used to test for sterility of medical equipment and virtually all intravenous drugs. Research on the compound eyes of horseshoe crabs has led to a better understanding of human vision. The marine life fishery collects live horseshoe crabs for resale as aquarium, research, or educational specimens, and the American eel and whelk fisheries use horseshoe crabs extensively as bait along many parts of the Atlantic coast. 4

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The last interactive touching exhibit was the No Bones Zone were my husband had a chance to touch the beautiful star fishes and sea urchins.  The starfish is a pretty sea creature, with its swirly-shaped arms dipping out at all angles from the fish. The usual number of arms is 5 or 6, but there are different species of the starfish.  The foods that the starfish, a predator, eats are bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels. They also eat any slow-moving fish. Others eat material that has decomposed from plants or animals. It seems that anything within reach is gathered for mealtime.3

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The final favorite place that I stop by was the Penguin Promenade where the trainers let the penguins walk around the audience on a red carpet.  These African Penguins was so cute and but they love to go to bathroom ever couple of minutes. Penguins are not afraid of humans and they do not communicate through sound but though body language. Penguins are amazing creatures for having the ability to adapt to their living environment and climate changes.  The African Penguins diet consist of  krill, cuttlefish, sardines, pilchards, anchovies, small crustaceans and squid. The African Penguins also adds pilchards and anchovies to their diet.5

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I truly enjoy the Florida Aquarium and I will make sure to come back again!  If you would like to see some more pictures of the animals that I saw you can click here !

 Happy New Year Everyone!!

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1, 2, 3, 5 –  http://diet.yukozimo.com/

4 – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/horseshoe-crabs/facts



Having a Fun Time at the Georgia Aquarium – Part 2

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The first exhibit we visited was the Ocean Voyager.  This part of the aquarium is home to 4 whales and 4 manta rays which I had the pleasure to witness.  It recently added a fourth manta ray to the Ocean Voyager exhibit and they are the only rays in the U.S. aquarium. There were a thousands of other fish in the 6.3 million gallon exhibit and it is the most magical aquarium habitat in the world.

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We had the pleasure to walk through an acrylic tunnel and we felt like a SCUBA diver in an endless blue sea, mesmerized by thousands of fish swimming overhead. Ocean Voyager, built by The Home Depot, is home to the gentle giants of the sea, including whale sharks and four manta rays.

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Beluga Whales

My husband and I started to walk in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest exhibit and had the chance to see the beautiful  beluga whales.  They were so cute and always smiling.  When they swim in the water it gave me a calming effect over my body.  Here are some facts about the Beluga whales:

  • The beluga whale is a warm blooded mammal that breathes through the blowhole on the top of its head, not through its mouth.
  • The word “beluga” is derived from the Russian word for “white”.
  • This whale can reach 15 feet long and weigh approximately 2,500 pounds. Blubber, a thick layer of fat, helps the animal stay warm and accounts for more than 40% of a beluga’s weight.
  • Normally, the beluga is a slow swimmer, averaging speeds of 2 to 6 miles per hour. However, it can achieve bursts of speeds in excess of 17 miles per hour. The beluga also has the ability to swim backwards.
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African Penguins

I also had a chance to stand into the Acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows which allowed me to come face to face with the African penguins  This exhibit features more than 25 nesting areas integrated into naturalistic rockwork and comes equipped with a state-of-the-art lighting system that mimics the natural light cycle from twilight to moonlight. These penguins reminded me to the wild African Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa that I had a chance to visit in 2006.  It was beautiful to see these animals even though they were trying to go to sleep.

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African Penguins

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Japanese Spider Crab

Also in the Cold Water Quest exhibit there were the Japanese spider crabs which is part of Deep Sea Dwellers.  Their habitat represents life 1,000 feet (305 m) deep: dark, barren and cold area.  Japanese spider crab gets its name from its resemblance to a spider. It has a rounded body covered with stubby projections and long slim legs.  The species has been known to grow up to 12 feet (3.7 m) across.  Its body will grow to about 15 inches (37 cm) wide and the animal can weigh up to 44 lbs. (20 kg).

Fish-Eating Anemone

Fish-Eating Anemone

Another thing in the Cold Water Quest exhibit  is the Rocky Shore Tidal Pool were we had the chance to dip our hand and touching the Fish-Eating Anemone.  In this exhibit you really get an idea of how cold the Pacific Northwest can be – the temperature here is kept at approximately 55o F (12.8o C).  While touching this creature I notice that my fingers got stuck on its white tentacles.  It felt so weird but the guide told me that this is where they feeds on small fishes not humans.

Fish-Eating Anemone

Fish-Eating Anemone

The last thing in the Cold Water exhibit we had a chance to see the cute Southern Sea Otters.  Southern sea otter is not a social animal as are other otter species and has been known to live alone.  We notice that this sea otter was the only one that wanted his pictures taken even though he was sleepy.  It is believed that a sea otter will wrap itself with kelp before sleeping at the surface to keep itself from drifting away.

Southern Sea Otter

Southern Sea Otter

The last place we visited is the Southern Company River Scout exhibit which showcases a wide diversity of animals found in the rivers of four continents – Africa, South America, Asia and North America.  The rivers are essential to life for animals, people and cultures throughout the world.   We saw the Sting-Rays which are Cartilaginous Fish.

 The skeletons of these animals (Class Chondrichthyes) are composed of cartilage instead of bone. Their bodies are covered with dermal denticles, providing a smooth appearance. Depending on species, they will have 5-7 gills for breathing. Many must continuously swim to breathe.

Sting Rays

Sting Rays

Also in River Scout exhibit we saw the Jelly Fish and the Sea Star Fish which are Invertebrates.

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

Invertebrates are animals that do not have a spine or vertebral column. They do not have skeletons or bone. Overall, they are incredibly diverse: approximately 97% of all animal species are invertebrates. For this reason, they must be classified into more than 30 phyla – from sponges to arthropods.

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

Sea Start Fish

Sea Star Fish

So if you are in Atlanta, Georgia, make sure you stop by and have a date at the Georgia Aquarium!  You will love it and want to come back again!