Some are familiar faces, and others are new … Here’s a quick introduction to some of the fish and sundry that you can see in the new I&J Ocean Exhibit.
These fish were collected by our Collections team near Struisbaai. Distributed through the Indo-Pacific and East Pacific ocean, the striped bonito is known to occur at depths from 1 to 167m.
The giant guitarfish is also new to our Aquarium. It was collected by uShaka Seaworld staff off Vetch’s Pier in Durban. The giant guitarfish is harmless to humans. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list as its population is believed to have declined significantly due to unregulated high levels of exploitation for its flesh and fins; the latter for shark fin soup.
The smaller turtles you see in this exhibit are green turtles. Bob was brought to us in November 2014 for rehabilitation. He was very badly injured and during the rehabilitation process, he also pooped out a bunch of plastic and balloons.
Frankie is also a green turtle and was rescued from Struisbaai in September 2015. Both turtles are still under veterinary care. Green sea turtles are often seen inshore off the South African coast, but do not come ashore to nest. Nesting occurs on the islands off Mozambique and other Indian Ocean islands. In comparison to loggerhead turtles, green turtles have a smooth shell, short snouts and beaks which are not hooked like those of loggerhead turtles. Green turtles are classified as endangered because their numbers have been reduced through hunting (for their meat) and the collection of their eggs. They are so named because of the greenish colour of their fat!
And of course there is Yoshi, our loggerhead turtle.
Yoshi was confiscated from a boat in Table Bay Harbour by the authorities in 1997, after getting caught in a trawler’s fishing nets. When she arrived at the Aquarium, she was the size of a dinner plate, but now she weighs more than 160kg.
Found only in southern Africa from central Angola to St Lucia and possibly as far north as Maputo, blue stingrays live inshore and are often caught in the surf zone along sandy beaches and estuaries. They are trawled at depths to 109m. Like other rays, blue stingrays use electro-receptors and highly developed senses of smell and touch to find molluscs, crustaceans, worms and small fishes, which they crush with flattened teeth. They grow to 75cm and can weigh up to 25kg.
Black musselcrackers have powerful jaws with a set of impressive teeth – four cone-shaped teeth in the upper jaw and six in the lower jaw as well as two rows of rounded molars in each. They use these teeth to crush starfish, sea urchins, crabs and chitons. The Afrikaans name "poenskop" means "skinhead".
Large adults have been spotted in the deep canyons off Sodwana Bay where coelacanths were found. These slow-growing fish can live up to 24 years.
Giant kob (previously known as dusky kob) are found in estuaries and on rocky reefs and sandy bottoms from southern Mozambique to False Bay. They are also found off the coasts of Australia, Japan, Pakistan and India. Juvenile giant kob find shelter in estuaries and feed on small copepods and mysid shrimps. Adults spend most of their time in the surf zone where they feed mainly on fish, but also on shrimp and squid. Giant kob grow to 2m and can weigh up to 70kg.
These fish have long, sloping foreheads with a pointed snout. The dorsal surface of the silvery body is covered with many small brown spots that extend onto the dorsal fins. A distinct black blotch occurs on the serrated gill cover. Spotted grunter prefer the brackish waters of shallow coastal estuaries and lagoons. These fish can also tolerate fresh water.
Spotted grunter are widespread from Cape Point along the whole African and Madagascan coast, into Indian waters. Some species of grunter, including the spotted grunter, are able to make a grunting sound by grinding the strong jaws in their throat together, hence their common name.
Watch the feeds!
We feed the animals in this exhibit twice a day – at 12h00 a diver feeds the animals and at 14h00 we drop food in from the surface of the exhibit.
Come dive with these magnificent fish, graceful rays and turtles. Seeing the exhibit from a fish's-eye view is truly an out of this world experience. Not qualified? We can help with that – ask our Visitor Centre team about our onsite Discover Scuba course.