June 9, 2011
It’s always good times when one gets the chance to peruse the gallons of glass-bound sea life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Things get even more enjoyable when guests are treated to newly introduced miniature-marine babies.
The keepers and technicians at the aquarium must be making the ocean-going inhabitants stay pleasant enough to allow for love in small spaces.
The pharaoh cuttlefish sure seem to be enjoying their reprieve from prying eyes as they recently laid eggs behind the scenes. When the little cuttles hatch they will be no bigger than a pea, but will grow to over a foot in length. The magnificent mollusks will be on display in the Splash Zone exhibit when they are big enough not to get lost amongst the limpets. If you just can’t wait to see some cuttle-y youngsters the aquarium is displaying 16, three-month-old cuttlefish just a few inches in length sent from another facility.
Seahorses aren’t as shy when it comes to public procreation it would seem. The weedy sea dragons (residents of the ever-popular seahorse exhibit) shocked everyone at the aquarium when one of the males was spotted towing what looked like a chain of small pink beads. Turns out the ‘weedies’ felt right at home in the expertly recreated habitat and decided to add to the aquariums seahorse population.
The female weedy sea dragon actually affixes the eggs to the male’s tail where he cares for them until they are ready to hatch. Aquarists witnessed the courtship dance, noticing the eggs the next day, but weren’t sure if they were viable. A few weeks later the tell-tale eyes in the eggs peered out, giving many hope that little ‘weedies’ will be making an appearance soon.
The public named them and now you can see them live and in their juvenile plumage. That’s right, its Pebble and Tola, the two newest members of the MBA’s African black-footed penguin family. Reared by hand after hatching, the baby boys were slowly reintroduced to the other 18 feisty adult penguins. They are now the same size as all the others but you can tell them apart by their not so dapper, and slightly muddled plumage.
The federally threatened Western snowy plovers didn’t let the penguins have all the avian excitement at MBA this springy summer. The first plover chicks of the season hatched recently. Since the plover recovery program began in 2000 the aquarium has raised and released 58 of the tiny beachcombers. The aquarium has a checklist that each bird has to pass before they can be released, including wariness of humans and a minimum weight of 30 grams.
The aquarium has certainly been bombarded by a flurry of new life, and with more on the way its certainly not a bad time to peep the new residents, and pay a visit to the rest of the MBA regulars we all know and love.
Photos courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium