05 February 2014

The journey from ocean to Aquarium

Renée Leeuwner – Assistant Communications & Sustainability Manager at Two Oceans Aquairum

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

What a perfect day!

Most overseas aquariums acquire their animals from companies that collect the specimens for them. But the Two Oceans Aquarium is different. We focus on animals and plants found around our coast, and our collections team is responsible for collecting what we need.

The team consists of four keen fishermen and divers. These sea dogs go out on a regular basis to collect algae and fish for the various exhibits in the Aquarium. They also ensure that all our permits are up to date and in order.

The benefits of collecting our animals and plants are quite extensive. For example, we can target exactly what is needed in the Aquarium. We know how our animals and plants have been collected and when we want to release an animal, we have a very good idea of where it was originally caught.

Before release, all the animals are first cleared for release by our in-house vet and in the instance of certain animals, like sharks, we also obtain clearance beforehand from government officials.

The other day, I decided that a morning in the sun is exactly what I needed and I headed out to Miller’s Point with collections team members Paul van Nimwegen and Simon Brill to collect some algae.

Here is something interesting: marine algae grow very fast compared with terrestrial plants. Wherever we take a marine plant out, a new one sprouts and fills the gap within a month! This means that we have virtually no impact on the wild population, and in some instances we’ve been collecting from the very same spot for over 15 years.

The day we chose to go out collecting turned out to be perfect. Armed with a waterproof camera (essential equipment when collecting), I was ready to get wet. Here’s how things went, in pictures.

Paul and Simon heading off to collect various specimens of algae we display in the Aquarium
Paul and Simon were diving somewhere just before the rock. Maryke Musson (Assistant Curator) had joined us as the dive supervisor and kept a close eye on their bubbles
For the rest of us, it was a bit of a waiting game until they returned
Beautiful and bright anemones
I kept my eye on a shoal of strepies and after many attempts, managed to snap this shot
Our first delivery of algae
Collections aren't done haphazardly. They are done according to a requisition list, and sometimes the collections team must glance at the list to see if they are still on track
The collections tank into which everything goes. This is filled with lovely cold, fresh seawater
The list is checked again, just to be sure that nothing has been forgotten
Back at the Aquarium, the algae is distributed to the various exhibits
On display

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