Aquariums obtain animals from the ocean to display in their exhibits in order to fulfil the important role of teaching the public about the sea.
Alarming statistics reveal that fish stocks and many species in our oceans are rapidly becoming depleted. In an attempt to reduce our impact on the ocean, many aquariums around the world are also focusing on the culture of species for aquarium display and reintroduction into the wild. uShaka Sea World is no exception.
Aquarists who work in the aquarium monitor the exhibits closely to look for signs of new life. This could take the shape of eggs or live-born animals, depending on the species.
Juvenile fish require constant attention and nutritional support in order to grow. Artemia or brine shrimp is used to feed juvenile fish and corals. Artemia eggs are bought in cyst form and conditions are artificially created for the cysts or eggs to hatch. After four to six weeks they reach their adult stage.
In the early 1990s, the first moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) was cultured in an aquarium. This has paved the way for many more jellyfish species to be cultured for display purposes. uShaka Sea World proudly displays moon jellyfish, blue jellyfish, white spotted jellyfish and upside-down jellyfish which have been cultured on the premises.
The common cuttlefish is an interesting invertebrate found along our coastline. These cute-looking cousins of the octopus are a real challenge to rear in terms of feeding! With their frilly skirts and little beak-like mouth, they have won the hearts of the aquarists and public alike.
uShaka Sea World is home to a number of species that favour the cooler waters of the western and southern Cape. Catsharks from these waters are collected in the egg stage. These "mermaid’s purses" or egg cases are displayed so visitors can witness the development of the baby shark inside the egg. When they hatch, they are carefully reared and put on display. Make sure that you look out for them on your next visit to the aquarium!
Exchange programmes between aquariums take place so that we are able to acquire new and exciting animals not found in our waters. To achieve this, when sending animals away, they are carefully placed in appropriately manufactured shipping boxes and sent to foreign destinations. Extensive legal paperwork also has to be prepared to accomplish this task.
Dedicated aquarists work in the culture facility in the back-of-house area of uShaka Sea World. In order to become an aquarist who works with cultures, a Bachelor of Science degree is recommended.