You ask, we answer! Welcome to Deep Sea Diary’s monthly Q&A – a great way to connect with Aquarium experts as you fish for more information about all things Ripley’s.
Q. What is the most invasive species at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada?
A. The lionfish, a popular fish in tropical home aquariums, is a flourishing invasive species in the US Southeast and Caribbean coastal waters. Native to the Indo-Pacific, it is believed that they were likely released into the Atlantic Ocean and/or Gulf of Mexico on purpose when people no longer wanted them in their home aquariums.
This invasive venomous species has the potential to harm reef ecosystems because it is a top predator that competes for food and space. In the US, the lionfish population is continuing to grow and increase its range. Juveniles have been collected in waters as far north as Long Island, New York. This expansion in range is largely due to the fact that lionfish have no known predators and reproduce all year long. A mature female releases roughly two million eggs a year!
Be sure to check out the lionfish that call Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada home, located in the Gallery!
Q. How do jellyfish eat? Do they have a mouth?
A. Jellyfish eat by catching prey with their oral arms (the ones that hang down from the center of the body) or their tentacles (found along the margins of the body). These oral arms and tentacles are covered in specialized stinging cells, called nematocysts. These nematocysts function like a spring-loaded venomous harpoons, piercing pierce anything that brush up against them.
Prey caught in the central oral arms will be moved up canals in the arm to the mouth (which is an opening into the body at the point where all the arms meet in the middle) and then into the inner gastric pouch, where it is digested. If the prey is caught by the marginal tentacles, it is moved to canals in the body that then transport it to the center.
Jellyfish are passive hunters, which means they collect food as they move through the water. They feed on a steady diet of plankton and even other jellyfish.
Stay “tuna-d” for an upcoming Deep Sea Diary post on how we take care of the jellyfish at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada!
Q. How large can an octopus grow at the Aquarium?
A. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is home to a giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini). This species of octopus is the largest of 300+ known octopus species. There is a huge variation in size that depends on the individual, but the average for this species is considered around 15-18kg (33-40lb), with an arm span around 4m(12-14ft) when stretched out. Of course, we can’t talk about size without mentioning the world record – OVER 130kg (300lb) and 9m (30ft) wide! There has also been the occasional “fisherman’s tale” of even larger individuals, but the proof isn’t quite there yet.
The giant Pacific octopus can live to be about four years old, with both males and females dying soon after breeding. Females live long enough to tend to their eggs, but they do not eat during this months-long brooding period, and usually die soon afterwards.
Check out our giant pacific octopus, located in the Canadian Waters gallery!
Is there something you’ve always wanted to know about Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada? Drop us a line in the comments below for the chance to be featured in our monthly Q&A !