Claire Taylor is an assistant curator at the Two Oceans Aquarium, and responsible for managing the team that creates and maintains all our spectacular exhibits. We asked her about her 10 favourite animals at the Aquarium, and she gave us this list (in no particular order):
"The kingklip is very shy, but it tries very hard to be super-friendly," says Claire. The kinglip (Genypterus capensis) is not exactly the prettiest fish in the school, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in taste ... hence being on the WWF Sassi Orange list, meaning "think twice".
The yellowbelly rockcod, says Claire, is "arrogant and fussy. Things must happen in their own time." A rockcod is a slow-growing fish and can get as old as 24 years, so they’re probably not in much of a hurry. Large adults have been spotted in the deep canyons off Sodwana Bay.
"Short-tail stingrays think of themselves as little lap dogs, but a bull in a china shop is a better description," says Claire. Although the barb in their tails can inflict a severe or potentially fatal wound, short-tail stingrays are generally more inquisitive than aggressive. “They have no idea of their size and strength.”
"Mola mola are ridiculous and very trusting fish. They can go from ungainly to super-efficient in a heartbeat," says Claire
Sunfish are the largest bony fish in the ocean. They can grow up to 3m in length and approximately 2 000kg in weight. Ocean sunfish are found in all the oceans of the world, excluding the icy polar seas.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has a long-standing relationship with sunfish in Cape waters. Every summer sunfish come into the Waterfront, Table Bay and Simon’s Town harbours, and are often injured and/or disorientated. Sometimes they are trapped in the dry docks and Two Oceans Aquarium staff are called out to rescue them before the docks are drained of water.
- Photos: Dolphins, sunfish and more spotted on Ocean Adventurer
- Ocean sunfish (Mola mola) in Sturrock Dry Dock
- Aquarium dedicated to assisting stranded sunfish
- Slender sunfish wash ashore
- Sunfish rescued from Table Bay harbour
"Seals are the labradors of the sea," says Claire, who has years of first-hand experience with the Cape fur seals that live and play in the V&A Waterfront harbour. She is part of our “seal rescue team” and was instrumental in setting up the seal platform outside Shoreline Café, where Aquarium staff routinely free Cape fur seals that are entangled in plastic box bands, fishing line and other plastic pollutants.
Check out the video below to get an idea of the work involved on the platform:
It takes a lot of patience and attention to detail to work with corals and keep them healthy. "They keep you on your toes, but show you when you get the job right," says Claire, referring to the gorgeous colours exhibited by colonies of animals (polyps) that form soft coral reefs.
“Penguins are endearing … eventually," says Claire. They may bray, they may bite, their beaks may be unpredictable, but at the end of the day close relationships are formed with our seabirds.
At the Aquarium we have endangered African penguins and rockhopper penguins. Both species exhibit a whole lot of attitude and personality. (Find out for yourself with a Penguin Encounter here at the Aquarium.)