Have you ever walked by an exhibit, and thought to yourself “Meh, boring!”? Well those animals you walk by so carelessly have banded together to show you that they are more jaw-some than you know!
1. Bluegill (Canadian Waters)
Found in one of the first tanks at the Aquarium, after the entrance to our Canadian Waters gallery, these adorably small sunfish are found all over North America in streams and lakes. If you visit a body of water in Ontario and keep still, you’ll most likely have one swim up to you out of curiosity! They have a beautiful blue and purple colour, with some orange along the sides during mating season. Bluegill are vital to many food webs, as they prey on invertebrates, and are found to be prey to a wide variety of larger animals like bass, muskellunge, perch, walleye, herons, and even otters!
2. Freshwater Eels (Canadian Waters)
These slippery creatures are in a small tank in Canadian Waters, and you might not notice them until you look closely—they look like tree branches and have excellent camouflage! These fish used to be very abundant in rivers, but in Canada their population has dwindled because of the construction of hydroelectric dams, which has blocked their migration routes.
3. Sea Star (Canadian Waters)
Sea stars are known for their fun shape that usually include five arms! As many people may know, sea stars are also known for their really cool ability to regrow their limbs! The central body usually needs to remain somewhat intact to allow this; if one arm falls off, they can regrow their severed arm.
Sea stars also have the craziest way to eat! They actually consume their prey outside of their bodies. How?! Well, when they come across their prey they will expel their stomachs to digest the creature, then slurp up the digested mucus back into their central system!
4. Arctic Graylings (Kelp)
These small fish are often overlooked, but for animals that are home to our northern waters in Canada, they are quite colourful! These fish have a very busy life cycle. Arctic Graylings are found to spawn in rivers, lakes, and around Arctic Ocean drainages like Hudson Bay, Alberta, and British Columbia. These Canadian fish also have beautiful colouring during mating season—males’ change to bright blues, pinks and purples.
5. Wrasse (Rainbow Reef)
We have several different species of wrasse in our Rainbow Reef exhibit. They are really fun looking fish! Wrasse are named for their beak-like rostrum that’s adapted to help them feed. Males are large and have brighter colour patterns, but females are significantly smaller and have duller patterns, usually of white and black. These fish also undergo sequential hermaphroditism—changing sex at some point in their life.
6. Butterflyfishes (Rainbow Reef)
There’s a variety of different types of butterflyfish in the world—126 species to be exact—and you can find a sample in our Rainbow Reef! Butterflyfish are known as corallivores, which means they feed on coral. They are territorial and typical keep to a specific coral piece or anemone with a partner. These fish come in multiple colour patterns, and some species are known to change colour at night for added protection.
7. Wobbegong Sharks (Reef Sharks)
Wobbegong sharks aren’t typically noticed during someone’s’ visit to the Aquarium, but they are some crazy looking sharks! If you pass our Reef sharks tank, you might not see them at first glance, but if you look closely around the bottom, you might get a glimpse of our nocturnal ornate wobbegong or tasselled wobbegong. These sharks have a heavy camouflage, with brown, yellow, green and blue-grey tones, and small flaps of skin that look a lot like coral. They’re named after a term that describes their ‘beard’—a cluster of barbels that act as sensory organs and help with added camouflage.
8. Isopods (Shipwrecks)
They may look like scary creepy-crawlies, but our isopods are harmless! Typically, isopods range around 5 centimeters, but these are an example of deep-sea gigantism because they are so much larger than their “pill-bug” relatives. Isopods share the ability to curl up into a ball and allow their exoskeleton to protect them. They are not aggressive to humans, although they wouldn’t want to be handled by us either!
9. Archerfish (The Gallery)
Archerfish are native to rivers and brackish waters in hot climates and have adapted to hunt insects and invertebrates found above the surface of the water. They actually jump out of the water to catch their prey! These accurate shooters can bring down insects and other prey from up to 3 meters above the water’s surface. They do this with great eyesight and the ability to compensate for the refraction of light.
10. Upside Down Jellies (Planet Jellies)
Upside down jellies may look boring, but they certainly are not! A lot of people ask us if they can sting or have nematocysts, and the answer to that is yes! They can actually send out their nematocysts further than other stingrays and those can be suspended in the water column up to 6 feet! When you see an upside down jelly, keep that in mind and keep your distance. Upside down jellies excrete a bomb-like mucus that houses their nematocysts. This helps ward off predators and kill small prey, like brine shrimp.