We’ve all become victims to the lie that the bigger, stronger, more striking someone is, the more successful they are likely to become. As such, we tend to overlook the small, nondescript individuals and view them as insignificant. And thus we create a society of people filled with inferiority complexes.

Nature in contrast does not have these qualms or any such notions as animals and fish alike never look to outshine each other. I have never seen a penguin trying to lift weights with the hope of building a six-pack so he would be noticed rather than the jellyfish. Or the octopus spending hours trying to align its tentacles so that it could look better than the squid.

No, nature is comfortable in its own beauty and each component appreciates its place in the natural world.  So, it lives and operates without the competitiveness we fight each day.

While meandering through the Aquarium hallways the other day, I was once again reminded of the hidden beauty we sometimes rush by without so much as a second glance. How many of us burst into the Aquarium and make our way immediately to the Predator Exhibit (currently under repairs) because we want to see the sharks? Or just speed through in order to see the penguins or the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest.

Well, I found a few of these undiscovered, under-appreciated wonders the other day and have listed them as my “Small Five”.  Each one of these creatures has its own unique qualities and distinctiveness.  The amazing thing is that they continue to display their wonderful beauty whether we notice them or not.


I was first introduced to these guys by Xavier Zylstra, senior teacher in our Environmental Education Centre.

Mudskippers can remain out of water for several days, breathing through specialised chambers in their mouths and gills.


Cleaner shrimp

The shrimps remove parasites and infected growths from fish. Reef fishes can often be seen queuing for these services.

Cleaner shrimp.

Mermaid's purses

Shysharks lay their eggs in clusters of seaweed. Long coiled tendrils, which extend from the corners of the rectangular egg cases (giving them the name “mermaid’s purses”), get caught in the seaweed and hold the eggs in place for the seven months or more that they need before they can hatch.

Mermaid's purses.

Sand starfish

Starfish can regrow their arms – in fact a single arm can regenerate a whole body! 

Sand starfish.
Sand starfish tracks.

Kelp lice

Kelp lice have a specially developed digestive mechanism to combat the anti-herbivorous chemicals the kelp uses to defend the spore areas on which the lice feed. 

Kelp lice.


Why don’t you discover, or rediscover, your “Small Five” this holiday and let us know your favorites by posting them on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - @2OceansAquarium. Perhaps you too will learn the wonderful lesson I learnt from nature – I will continue to be the best version of me I can be, even if no one notices.  

High 5 to you today.
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