Category

Animal Care

I Don’t Think You’re Ready for This Jelly

One of the most photographed animals at the Aquarium, the Pacific sea nettles, are easily one of the most bizarre creatures on display. These brainless, eye-less creatures are almost 95% water! With no eyes to help detect their food, they rely on light-sensing organs.

Did you know that tomorrow, November 3, is World Jellyfish Day?!

To celebrate, today on Deep Sea Diary, we are going to interview one of our Aquarists, Eric.

Eric is our resident “jelly man.” He has been working with Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada since 2014 and has always been a vital part of our jellyfish husbandry team. He currently takes care of our Pacific sea nettles, moon jellies and works with culturing live foods such as zooplankton.

Eric, aka Jelly Man, is an aquarist at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

How did you get involved working with jellyfish?

“It all started with an internship at an aquarium. A lot of my daily tasks required me to work with jellyfish. One day, my supervisor was showing me how to feed sea nettles and he got stung. I asked him what it felt like to be stung and he responded with “Oh, I don’t feel it anymore.” That really lowered my fear of working with jellyfish – I actually got excited and curious about getting stung myself!”

What does it feel like to get stung?

It ranges from an irritating itch to individual pins and needles poking you. The worst one I ever got felt like getting a scratch and then cleaning it with rubbing alcohol for hours.

Moon jellies can grow up to 40cm in diameter and can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. These jellyfish are capable of life cycle reversal, where individuals grow younger instead of older! At Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, we grow our own moon jellies to display in our Life Cycles Exhibit.

What is your favourite part about working with jellyfish?

I think my favourite part is knowing that you can get them super big and beautiful by doing some of the simplest things like feeding them and keeping their exhibit clean. Also cultivating jellyfish is still very new in the aquarium world and being able to learn so much about jellyfish and their niche always keeps me interested.

How is caring for jellyfish different than caring for fish?

Besides the fact that their tanks are round, not square, they also are an animal that can’t communicate with body language or anything. They can respond with certain behaviours such as retracting their arms from water turbulence or pulsing when they encounter a current but otherwise they are animals that most people don’t understand and I enjoy that!

Upside down jellies lie on the bottom of the ocean (upside down) to expose their algae covered arms to the sun. When disturbed, these jellyfish will swim off the bottom of the ocean or excrete stinging cells contained within mucus as a defence.

What is your favourite jellyfish?

Carukia barnesi, also known as Irukandji jellyfish. They are the about size of your pinky finger and can deliver incredibly painful, venomous stings which can result in a powerful sense of impending doom and even death!

If you want to learn all about jellyfish, their care, what they eat and how they work, check out our blog post Jellyfish 101.

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Comment below for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

Recap: International Sawfish Day

On Tuesday, October 17, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada joined several aquariums across North Americain celebrating the first annual International Sawfish Day!

Did you know? There are only five species of sawfish in the world – Dwarf, Knifetooth, Smalltooth, Largetooth and Green sawfish. The largest being the smalltooth sawfish, which can grow up to 25 feet!

One of the ways that Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada celebrated these incredible species with TWO Facebook LIVE events! If you didn’t get the chance to “tuna” in on Tuesday, check them out below.

First up, our Marketing Coordinator Sarah joined our Senior Aquarist Ka in the Dangerous Lagoon Tunnel to discuss all things sawfish. During their chat, they were even joined by a very special guest – our male green sawfish! The male and female green sawfish that call Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada home can often be seen lying on the tunnel, giving guests the perfect view.

 

During the second Facebook LIVE, Sarah joined one of our Lead Educators, Danielle, behind the scenes to give viewers a look at how we feed the animals in the Dangerous Lagoon, including the two resident sawfish.

Danielle answered some great questions – including the purpose of the sawfish’s rostum, how they are able to eat and even what they are fed here at the Aquarium.

 

One important topic that both Kat and Danielle discussed was the many threats that face these animals, and how we can help.

The sawfish gets their name from their long rostrum, or “saw”. Due to this unique morphology, combined with slow growth, all five species of sawfish are listed as endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Their rostrum often causes entanglement in fishing nets and other marine debris and can often lead to targeted trophy hunting. They are also continuously hunted for their meat, liver oil and fins for the shark fin trade. And, as a species commonly found in shallow coastal waters, their habitat is at risk due to development.

Even though we may be located thousands of miles from the nearest sawfish habitat, there are many ways that we can help. Most importantly, it starts with education and creating awareness. By participating in activities such as International Sawfish Day, we can create awareness of these animals and their importance in the ocean and threats they face.  We hope that you enjoying “tuna”ing in to our Facebook LIVE events, and they you will share them with your friends so that they too can build a connection with these magnificent ocean creatures.

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Comment below for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

What is AZA?

Conserve. Educate. Inspire.

At Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, our mission is to provide a world class experience that will foster education, conservation and research, while providing fun and entertainment for all ages.

One way that we do this is by maintaining accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

AZA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA has been the primary accrediting body for zoos and aquariums for over 40 years, and represents more than 230 institutions in the United States, Canada and internationally.

These accredited institutions meet the highest standards in animal care and provide a fun, safe, and educational family experience. Collectively drawing more than 180 million visitors every year and dedicating millions of dollars to support scientific research, conservation and education programs, accredited zoos and aquariums play an important role in connecting their visitors to the natural world.

Simply put, AZA accreditation is considered to be the “best” accreditation a zoo or aquarium can hold, due to the incredibly high standards and stringent requirements.

In September 2015, less than two years after opening, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

To achieve accreditation, the Aquarium underwent a thorough review to ensure it has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. In addition to a very lengthy written application, the Aquarium also took part in an intense multiple-day on-site inspection, which involved outside leaders in the zoo and aquarium industry observing all aspects of the institution’s operation. Over the course of three days, the inspectors observed the Aquarium’s animal care, safety for visitors, staff and animals, educational programs, conservation efforts, veterinary programs, financial stability, risk management, visitor services, and more.  The accreditation process then concluded with an in-person hearing in front of the Accreditation Commission, at which time accreditation was presented.

Accreditation doesn’t stop there. AZA member institutions are required to repeat the entire accreditation process every five years to ensure that they are upholding the continuously evolving standards, incorporating best modern zoological practices in animal welfare and management, and embracing modern AZA philosophies.

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So what does this mean for Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada?

Accreditation certifies that Ripley’s meets all mandatory and professional standards for animal welfare, management, veterinary care, behavioural enrichment, nutrition, staff training and beyond. This recognition ensure that the animals you visit receive excellent care every day.

“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredits only those zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards and are proven leaders in the care and conservation of wildlife as well as education,” said former AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “The community can take great pride in knowing that Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of conservationists.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and their member institutions are leaders in saving species, and your link to helping animals all over the world. So, the next time you visit a zoo or aquarium look for the AZA accreditation logo as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is extremely proud to hold this accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums! You can find Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada’s accreditation plaque proudly displayed at Guest Services. Visit us today to experience one of our dive shows and aquarist talks, and to learn more about our conservation programs and animal welfare practices.

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Drop us a line in the comments below for the chance to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

Jellyfish 101

What is a jellyfish, and how do you take care of them?! A question on every visitor’s mind.

Being neither fish nor delicious fruit preserve, the name “jellyfish” is a bit of a misnomer.  Typically referred to as sea jellies, or just “jellies”, these animals belong to a larger collection of animals referred to as Cnidaria, and are more closely related to sea anemones and corals than they are to actual fish. They evolved over 580 million years ago when their ancestors laid claim to the planktonic, venomous marine predator niche of the food chain. And they’ve held onto it firmly ever since.

That being said, jellies are little more than a set of floating stomachs with stinging arms, a simple network of nerves and a reproductive system – so how much work can really go into their care? Let’s find out!

First, you just need to simulate the vast and fathomless open ocean in a relatively small space. How hard could it be?!

In order to recreate a jelly’s natural environment, we have to build a tank that ensures they aren’t exposed to powerful currents, walls, corners, edges, holes, any solid objects whatsoever, excreted waste, old food, microscopic organisms, other jellies – you get the idea. Sea jellies’ health will rapidly deteriorate if they have prolonged contact with anything solid. So, in terms of build, most jellyfish tanks are rounded and have painstakingly balanced water flow to keep jellies suspended off of the walls and floor. Similar to the ceiling moon jelly tank (pictured below) in our Planet Jellies gallery.

moon-jelly-flow

Second, you need to provide a constant, even supply of a variety of foods all day, every day.

Jellies are opportunistic carnivores. In the wild, this means they are continually pulling food out of the water. At the Aquarium, this means that we have to provide a near-constant supply of things for them to catch, a feat managed by our behind-the-scenes “live food” cultures and specially blended “shakes” made up of frozen krill, fish eggs, and other goodies. Delicious!

Each day, one aquarist is responsible for preparing the population of freshly hatched brine shrimp that will be fed out, via a low drip, to all of our tanks. Just as much work goes into keeping up our live foods as it does to care for any of our exhibit tanks; they have to be fed, their tanks have to be cleaned, and their health needs to be closely monitored to ensure our animals are getting the highest quality food possible.

Third, you need… well, jellyfish.

Jellies reproduce by broadcast spawning, which means the males and females release sperm and eggs into the water. These gametes meet up and create a small grain-like “planula” that will find a nice place to settle down into a polyp, which resembles a small sea anemone. These polyps will break off into several flower-like ephyrae, which eventually transform into medusae – the final life stage that most people recognize as “jellyfish”.

Perforated plates or mesh left in tanks containing adult jellies are ideal settling grounds for polyps, so our cultures behind the scenes and on-exhibit are always growing and changing! (When touring the Aquarium, be sure to check out the life cycle display in Planet Jellies.)

Finally, all that’s left is keeping up with the cnidarians.

Day to day maintenance of our jelly tanks is an involved and convoluted dance, since any interaction between cleaning equipment and jelly could result in injury. At the same time, our jellies also need their tanks to be kept clear of algae and other microscopic organisms that could damage them. To help combat this, once every few months each exhibit will have its inhabitants moved out to a holding tank overnight, and a diver will either enter the tank to scrub down all the surfaces, or the tank will be bleached, emptied, and refilled with fresh salt water.

Though it can be a bit disorienting with the ever-changing lights on our jellyfish exhibits, pay attention the next time you swim by and you might be able to see how the water flows around our tanks, spot some speck-sized brine shrimp zooming around, or even see some brand new baby ephyrae!

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Drop us a line in the comments below for the chance to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

Back to School

It’s September!  This means that it’s time for everybody’s favourite time of the year – back to school!

Okay, so, maybe not everybody loves back-to-school time.  But for a lot of our fish, their “school” is the happiest and safest part of their lives.

A school of fish is most accurately defined as: a group of fish that swim together in the same direction. Fish that group for social purposes are technically shoaling, and groups of fish often switch back and forth between both.

For something that appears so simple, it’s actually an incredibly complex behaviour. Scientists don’t fully understand the ins and outs of it yet, but the fact that it’s so common means it must be advantageous.  Schooling can increase feeding efficiency, make it easier to find a mate, and let the group as a whole navigate better than an individual.  Some scientists believe that traveling in a school may reduce drag or resistance, similar to a flock of birds.  It’s also quite an effective predator-avoidance technique – safety in numbers, right?  Schooling behaviour can confuse hunters, and lower individual risk of predation.

One of the flashiest exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is the alewife exhibit, located at the entrance to the Canadian Waters gallery.

In-house, it’s referred to simply as “Schooling”, and it’s easy to see why.  This is a monospecific exhibit, meaning it has only one kind of animal.  Alewives are anadromous, which means that in the wild, they are born in freshwater and live most of their lives in the ocean (sort of like salmon).  They’re close cousins of herring, and there’s some evidence that they communicate with farts!  But the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a huge group of animals, all swimming together.  How many fish do you think there are in there?  Go on, take a guess.

Some fish, like alewives, are what we call obligate shoalers. This means that they spend their entire lives in a group.  With obligate shoalers, being alone or in a too-small group can cause a measurable stress response.  That’s part of the reason why we have such a large school here at the Aquarium – they won’t be happy or healthy otherwise.  If you’re looking at the alewife exhibit, watch out for any that get separated from the main group.  They zoom back in in quite a hurry!  You’ll be able to see the school swimming together against the current in the exhibit, and moving up and down in the water.  If you’re lucky, you might get to see a feeding, when they’ll all rocket to the surface together.  These fish usually have a very fast response time during feeds.  Many eyes mean someone is likely to spot the food as soon as it goes in.

While the alewives are certainly an obvious example, make sure to look for schooling and shoaling behaviour in the other exhibits as well!

Our Swarm: Nature by Numbers exhibit has more information about group behaviours in animals, and lots of other examples of animals that swarm, shoal, and school together. Make sure to check it out!

Oh, and to answer the question above? We have almost 7000 individuals in our alewife school!

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Drop us a line in the comments below for the chance to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

Water Quality at the Aquarium

 

It’s finally August! Time to relax on the beach, host a few BBQs, and of course celebrate National Water Quality Month!

Ok, so maybe August isn’t exactly synonymous with water quality for most people. But here at Ripley’s it’s always a top priority. As a member of the aquariums husbandry department and the aquarist in charge of our chemistry lab, I am responsible for testing and monitoring the water quality of our exhibits. Frequent and meticulous testing is critical to ensure that our exhibit water meets the highest of standards. The lives of our animals literally depend on it.

When we take care of aquatic animals, we do so in part by controlling their entire environment!

The water in their exhibit, for all intents and purposes, is their whole world. There is no current to flush waste away, no distant reef to retreat to, but rather a finite, and when compared to the size of lakes and oceans, relatively small volume of water that must be pristine. If left unchecked, waste and other potentially harmful contaminants could accumulate to levels that threaten the well-being of our animals!

But alas, there is no cause for concern. We have a dedicated laboratory for the sole purpose of testing water quality parameters to ensure they are always within the appropriate range that our animals need to thrive.

Now let us be clear, this is not like testing the pH and alkalinity of your pool or using a testing kit for your aquarium at home. Our lab is equipped with high-end scientific equipment to make certain we get accurate and precise results. Routine testing involves the use of multi parameter meters, pH/conductivity/luminescent dissolved oxygen probes, incubators, burettes, and the pièce de résistance, a UV/Vis spectrophotometer with an added on flow thru apparatus.

ripleys-aquarium-water-quality-lab

With this equipment we are able to measure, and thus closely monitor, the pH, salinity, alkalinity, oxygen saturation and oxygen content, levels of nitrogenous waste products, potential heavy metal contaminants, chlorine content, phosphate levels, and bacterial growth in our exhibits. Among other important parameters. We test our water constantly as early detection enables us to correct potential issues within our exhibits before they progress to the point were they pose a threat to the well-being and health of our animals.

Alright, I have delayed long enough. It’s time to talk about poop!

As you may have heard everyone poops, and this includes all of the animals here at the aquarium. So, where does that poop go exactly and does it affect our water quality? Some of it is removed as part of the mechanical filtration included in the life support systems for our tanks, more is removed by chemical filtration, and yet more during routine cleaning by siphoning and gravel vacuuming etc. But that doesn’t get rid of all the waste produced by fish, namely I’d like to focus on the nitrogen waste product – ammonia. Specifically, how we prevent it’s build up and how we test for it.

Ammonia accumulation is toxic to all vertebrates primarily due to its neurotoxic effects. In the open ocean, the concentration of ammonia never has the opportunity to suddenly spike because of just how massive oceans are. But in closed recirculating systems like our exhibits, ammonia levels have the potential to climb and to climb rapidly. To prevent this we use biological filtration which involves the help of nitrifying bacteria that actually use the ammonia as an energy source. These bacteria “eat” the ammonia which prevents it from building up to harmful levels.

But in order to ensure this beneficial bacteria is doing its job we have to do ours too.

This involves testing exhibit water for ammonia. For some tanks this means daily testing and for others a couple times a week. We test for ammonia and other nitrogenous waste compounds using colorimetric assays. As part of these assays, a dye or colour change is produced following a chemical reaction between our laboratory reagents and the waste compound we want to measure. The intensity of this colour being proportional to the amount of ammonia (in this example) present in the water sample. In the absence of ammonia, no colour change will occur. This colour change is measured using a spectrophotometer and offers precision home testing kits cannot replicate.

We are very conservative in our cut off for what constitutes safe levels of ammonia and other contaminants. We will perform water changes, replacing tank water with new water free of contaminants, whenever these limits are exceeded. Again, if ammonia would not accumulate in the oceans why should we tolerate ammonia accumulation in our tanks!

This abundance of caution helps to ensure our tanks don’t only look appealing to our guests, but the animals in them are happy and healthy too.   

P.S. Happy Water Quality Month!

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Email us atdeepseadiary@ripleys.com for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

A Day in the Life of an Aquarium SCUBA Diver

scuba-diver-ripleys-aquarium-canada

Whether you’re planning on swimming off a dock in cottage country, hitting the beach on the coast or “borrowing” your child’s kiddie pool, there’s a good chance you’ll take to the water this summer to enjoy the warm weather.

Of course, at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada the swimming never stops. In addition to the tens of thousands of animals that call the Aquarium home, visitors may sometimes notice SCUBA divers at work. While we’re most aquatically active in the morning hours, we typically conduct at least five dives every single day, all year long. That’s a lot of time underwater! But with over two dozen certified SCUBA divers on staff – from full and part-time divers to our aquarium biologists – we are able to share the load.  

It takes a lot of work to dive as much as we do, requiring scheduling, equipment servicing, filling tanks, keeping records and supervision for each dive. In fact, we maintain records of every dive we’ve made since there was first water in our exhibits.

These dives can take a lot of forms, but many of them revolve around cleaning.

With 5.7 million litres of water at the Aquarium, it’s no surprise that some exhibits are going to be too big to tidy up without getting wet. In fact, over 15 of our exhibits are dove regularly for cleaning, with many more requiring snorkeling. These cleaning dives can involve wiping the acrylic (the material used for our viewing windows) to give guests the best possible look, scrubbing the rocks and décor, and even doing some underwater vacuuming to make sure the sand stays clean for the health of the fish.

Aside from keeping things looking great, divers are needed to make sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. The subtle things like water flow, lighting, or how the rocks and sand are arranged take a back seat to the animals in our exhibits – and that’s the idea. Divers make sure that conditions remain ideal for our animals and our guests by making any adjustments and repairs that are required.

If you ask any of our team, they’re likely to tell you their favourite part of the day is interacting with the animals directly.

As for our animals… their favourite part of the day is likely feeding time. Most species aren’t particularly picky eaters and receive a broadcast feed, meaning food is put into the exhibit from above. Other species need more controlled diets and require targeted feeding, meaning they are fed individually.

Some of the freshwater fish of our Great Lakes Basin, the cold water denizens of our Pacific Kelp exhibit and even each individual anemone from our Pacific Anemone wall are fed directly by divers. It requires patience, a steady hand, and more often than not an extended post dive shower to warm back up. But, it’s worth it to see these animals in action close up.

While feeding dives usually take place during business hours and in view of the public, seeing them can involve a bit of luck – and often an early morning visit!

That’s why we do regularly scheduled show dives for our guests, usually five times each day. Our dive team performs daily feedings in our Ray Bay and Rainbow Reef exhibits to demonstrate how the animals get their food. With the help of educators on the dry side, we get a chance to answer questions and talk a bit about what makes the animals and our oceans so awesome.

ray-bay-scuba-diver

While these are the most common dives, they’re just the beginning of work we do underwater here at the Aquarium. Whether we’re going in to give a checkup to one of our fine finned friends, directing shark traffic in our Dangerous Lagoon, or picking up puzzles and toys dropped by our Giant Pacific Octopus, we’re always finding new reasons to get underwater.

So enjoy your time in the water this summer and if you have a chance, come check us out too. Just leave the swimming to the professionals!

Interested to see what its like to work as an aquarist at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada? Check out our Aquarist for a Day program.

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Email us at deepseadiary@ripleys.com for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

Feeding the Sharks of the Dangerous Lagoon

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“How do you take care of the sharks?” is one of the most common questions we get at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

Doing your part to take care of sharks in the wild is an easy thing to do – simply avoid things like shark fin soup, products with shark liver oil (also known as squaline) and support sustainable fisheries.

Taking care of sharks in captivity however, is another story.

The sharks that call Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada home are ambassadors for the wild populations that are currently facing human threats, leaving many species on the endangered list.

At the Aquarium, we work hard to keep our sharks happy and healthy. One of the biggest tasks is feeding, of course!

Many people are surprised to hear that sharks generally have a slow metabolism and that we only need to offer food 3 times a week (Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays) to meet their dietary requirements. On average, we aim to deliver about 2% of their body weight per feed. The sharks are fed a variety of restaurant grade seafood such as bonito, herring and squid, along with a specialized shark vitamin.

 

At feeding time, it takes a minimum of nine staff members to ensure that the sharks, and the other inhabitants in the Dangerous Lagoons, are all well fed.

We have two “broadcast” stations at the surface where the fish are fed a variety of chopped seafood that is scattered in the water. The mix of food usually consists of clam, capelin, krill and marine pellets. This broadcast feed helps to keep them away from the area where the sharks are being fed.

To ensure the “shy” bottom feeder fish are also taken care of, a staff member is responsible for filling a tube system (located behind the scenes) that shoots the food under the water.

During this time, the two green sea turtles are brought into the back acclimation pool to not only keep them away from the sharks, but for a training session and enrichment. Training and enrichment for our green sea turtles is a very important job because it allows us to closely monitor their health on a regular basis. A typical lunch for the turtles consists of romaine lettuce, carrots, sweet potato, green peppers, brussel sprouts and capelin, a small fish. We make sure the sea turtles also get their vitamins, usually hidden in a piece of fish.

Back out in the Lagoon, we have 3 feeding “stations” designated for each species of shark (sand tiger, sandbar and nurse), sawfish and rays.

Each animal has been conditioned (or has learned) to feed at those areas with the use of a coloured target that we put in the water to let them know it is feeding time. As they swim by the station, each individual is offered their lunch at the end of a long feeding pole. Feeding staff are trained to recognize the individuals by their unique notches in their fin and spots on their back. One staff member is responsible for keeping track of how much food each individual is consuming. It takes approximately 30 minutes before the sharks are full and stop coming to their feeding station, which is when we know they are happily fed.

If you are interested in seeing all of this in action, feel free to swim by on a feeding day (times can be found here)! We also have a staff member in the heart of the action in the Dangerous Lagoon tunnel to answer any questions and explain how we tackle this big job of feeding the sharks.

We hope that after your experience with these beautiful creatures, you not only gain a higher appreciation for them, but also become more inspired to protect and educate others about their importance in the wild.

Happy Shark Awareness Day!

 

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Email us at deepseadiary@ripleys.com for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

What’s on the Menu?

whats-on-the-menu

What does it take to keep over 16,000 animals healthy and thriving?

 

A nutritious menu – catered to each individual – is an important place to start!

In order to accomplish this, we must bring in a variety of seafood, produce, and other foods, all of which are restaurant quality (fit for human consumption).

Each aquarist uses knowledge of their animals’ biology, and individual preferences, in order to determine what, how, and when to feed. Of course, tastes and nutritional requirements can change over time, so we must constantly evaluate these diets too.

All food is prepared in a dedicated kitchen that gets sanitized several times a day. Most of our seafood comes frozen, so we have large refrigerators to thaw it in. We also utilize vitamin supplements to replace any essential nutrients lost in the freezing process.

Each exhibit has its own dedicated food containers, and everything gets labelled and rotated to ensure that food doesn’t go bad and there is no cross-contamination between exhibits.

While it’s easiest to think about feeding fish and turtles, we also have to consider the other animals that call Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada home.

Coral, barnacles, anemones and jellyfish are a few types that cannot actively chase down their food. That’s not a problem! We can add planktonic food, such as Artemia (brine shrimp) or algae, right into the water column.

Next time you visit us, be sure to see our daily Aquarist Talk listing. You can ask questions, and see and hear about how your favorite animals are fed and cared for.

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Email us at deepseadiary@ripleys.com for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!