Want Ocean Superheroes? We have a whole army of them! From the small and obscure like anemones to the large and imposing sharks. But Oceans Superheroes come in a whole range of shapes, sizes, and colours. Let’s look at three of these Superheroes that you will find in the I&J Ocean Exhibit, and discover their hidden talents.
Stingrays (eagle rays and giant shorttail stingrays)
These flatfishes have a vital role to play in the marine ecosystem. Stingrays and other ray species have a very unique way of feeding. Looking at the animal, one immediately sees that their mouths are situated underneath their bodies. This indicated that they are bottom-dwelling and bottom-feeding. By skimming the ocean floor and hovering over various sandy areas to find their food, they move sand and sediment around. The movement of the sand creates a micro-environment for tiny invertebrates. But not only that – while the rays are searching for food for themselves, they also uncover food for other animals in the area.
Rays also move nutrients around within the marine ecosystem. Some ray species dive very deep to find their food. Through their natural bodily functions (pooping), they distribute vital nutrients to other parts of the ocean as they swim around. Go, go rays! Superheroes indeed.
Parrotfish are Ocean Superheroes that not only do their bit for the ocean, but they also give us humans something lovely in return. Parrotfish chomp on corals and then poop out lovely white sand which becomes the wonderful beaches that we like to spend our time relaxing on. They can grind up and poop out almost 100kg of beautiful white sand, a year!
You might think that this superpower is not so great for the coral that is nibbled on, but here’s the thing – most parrotfish actually eat the algae that grow in the coral. By “pruning” the coral, the parrotfish remove algae-infected parts of the coral, improving the health of the coral and the ecosystem.
Bluestreak cleaner wrasse
When it comes to the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse, dynamite definitely comes in small packages. These small fish are well-known for their extraordinary cleaning abilities. They set up shop and advertise their services to other fish in the area. They feed on the parasites and mucus found on their fishy clients. Fish that report for a good cleaning by these wrasses are known to open their mouths and patiently wait for the cleaner wrasses to clean between their teeth and the insides of their mouths. Most of the “clients” will even allow the cleaners to pick at parasites on their very sensitive gills.
It is really easy to overlook the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse as they only grow to between 10 and 14cm in length. Next time when you stop off at the I&J Ocean Exhibit, keep an eye open for these little fish as they flit around, advertising their cleaning service.
There you go – three Ocean Superheroes that the Two Oceans Aquarium houses in the I&J Ocean Exhibit. Ocean Superheroes are everywhere – you need to know where to look!