A huge thanks to frequent visitor Alan Rudnicki, who was kind enough to share these gorgeous photos of the Two Oceans Aquarium. This is not the first time we shared his photography...
Whether you love the Two Oceans Aquarium for the way it showcases South Africa's marine diversity, or if you come here to explore foreign creatures (crabs, fish, penguins), there's always something beautiful, fascinating and inspiring to experience.
1. Longhorn cowfish
The bright yellow longhorn cowfish is one of the Aquarium’s most photogenic fish. Its body is enclosed in an “armour” of fused bony scales and it has two prominent horns protruding above the eyes, hence the name.
2. Knysna seahorse
There are 42 different kinds of seahorses in the world, but only five of these have been seen around the southern African coastline. The Knysna seahorse is the best known, and is the only seahorse that is endangered.
3. Cleaner shrimp
The brightly coloured cleaner shrimp is the perfect creature in nearly any aquarium – they help with the natural filtration process, break down debris, and help clean their tank mates, coral and rocks. In the wild, the cleaner shrimp has even been observed crawling into the open mouth of a willing diver to give them a quick clean!
4. Spiny starfish
Spiny starfish are common on the rocky shores of the Western Cape. They are either orange or blue-grey in colour. The spines are surrounded by a circle of tiny white nippers that are used for defence and to keep the sea star clean. Each of the starfish's five arm also has hundreds of tiny tubefeet, which enable the starfish to creep slowly over a reef.
5. Moon jelly
Named for their ghostly, transparent bells, moon jellies have short tentacles that are armed with stinging cells, or “nematocysts”. Fortunately their sting lacks the toxic, painful punch of some other jellies. Moon jellies are one of the most widespread jelly species in the world and are found throughout most of the world’s oceans.
6. Giant spider crab
The giant spider crab is the largest crustacean in the world, and males can grow to approximately one metre in length. Very little is known about the biology of giant spider crabs and it is virtually impossible to determine their age. However, they are thought to get up to 100 years old. They live on the ocean floor at depths of around 400m, where they find all their tasty meals, including algae, molluscs, shellfish and small fish.
7. Ragged-tooth shark
Ragged-tooth sharks’ teeth are arranged in rows which continually move slowly forward, like conveyor belts. This ensures a constant supply of sharp, new teeth and results in sharks losing and replacing thousands of teeth in a lifetime.
8. West Coast rock lobster
West Coast rock lobsters (crayfish or ‘’kreef’’ as they are known locally) grow very slowly and can live to the ripe old age of 50 years or so. Late in 2016, the WWF South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) officially placed the West Coast rock lobster on its red list – don’t buy! Jasus lalandii is endangered: the most recent stock assessment indicates the stock is heavily depleted at only 2% of its pre-exploitation levels.
9. Honeycomb moray eel
Many people are frightened of eels because of they look and move like snakes. Honeycomb moray eels are not snakes – they are actually fish and live in holes or caves and are highly territorial. They will defend their cave from intruders and will only venture out briefly to catch passing prey. Eels are generally not aggressive and are only likely to bite you if you reach into the cave in which they’re hiding.
10. Western clownfish
Like other clownfish, the western clownfish is hermaphroditic. If the female dies or disappears, the male will become the new female and another sexually immature specimen will quickly develop into a reproductive male. Many fish have the ability to change sex. This is a strategy to maximise reproductive output.