Choosing to adopt an animal is a fin-tastic way to show your support for The Deep and contribute towards valuable conservation efforts for marine species across the globe.
Within this private Adopters' Page you will receive exclusive news and information just for you. We will be sharing up to date news on your animal, inside knowledge from behind the scenes and any animal antics going on.
To view all the news relating to your adopted animal, simply select the species from the drop down below.
Penguin Party in shutdown
On 18th June, one of our youngest penguins Lizzie celebrated her 4th birthday! Our Keeper Helena brought out some special toys and an extra large sharing bucket of sprat for the colony.
Lizzie was one of 2 chicks born at The Deep in 2016, along with Attenborough. She is very sweet in personality, often cuddling up to the Keepers when they enter. She’s also a big foodie so it was very nice of her to share on her special day! Can you spot her in the photo below from her pink and blue wingband?
Here is an updated version of our penguin bios, including our 2019 chicks, Humber and Wilberforce. Do you share a birthday with a penguin?
Summer 2019 saw us welcome 2 Gentoo penguin chicks to our colony, the first in June and the second almost exactly a month later. There was just one thing we all wanted to know – were they boys or girls?
We sent their feathers off to be DNA tested and we’re delighted to announce we have two boys! Following a vote on social media, the names Wilberforce (Wilber) and Humber were chosen. Both chicks have been doing really well and have already established themselves in our colony of Gentoo penguins in the Kingdom of Ice area of The Deep
They're not the first penguin chicks we've had at The Deep. Our first chicks arrived in June 2016 and were named Attenborough and Lizzie after David Attenborough and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who both celebrated their 90th Birthdays that year.
All of our penguins have successfully paired since their arrival in 2014 with breeding and nesting behaviour observed each subsequent year – a clear indication that they are happy in their home.
Down in the dumps Diane!
One of our penguins, Diane is feeling a bit down in the dumps. She's the last of our Gentoo penguin colony to start her annual moult. It's been a busy summer for her raising two baby penguin chicks and their needs have had to come first. She's had to wait until each one is fledged before she's been able to concentrate on herself - welcome to the world of motherhood Diane!
Gentoo penguins moult each year so they can grow new feathers ensuring they maintain their waterproof layer. It's a bit like when we buy a new winter coat to keep us warm, but in this instance it's ensuring they are able to swim efficiently and effectively so they can gather food. In the wild they don't eat during their mault as they're unable to enter the water, something our Gentoo penguins also mimic. One of our longest non-eaters was Nessie, who went for 21 days without eating while she was moulting.
Diane will be a much happier penguin when this natural, annual process has finished. Although she should be very proud of herself, for being such a fantastic mum!
Pittar patter of tiny feet
During the Summer we were excited to welcome two penguin chicks to our Gentoo colony here at The Deep. The first chick is now approaching 4 months old and the second is 3months, they no longer look like the cute, fluffy babies they were.
We are delighted with their progress and how they have settled in within the colony, they have now fledged, left the nest and have become independent. The penguins are fed twice per day on a mixture of fish; including capelin, sprat and herring. They will also receive a feed of krill and sometimes squid in their pool to encourage their natural hunting behaviours.
In order to ensure species survival in the wild it is essential to learn as much as they can about their behaviour, biology and developmental requirements. This knowledge is then further applied to crucial conservation strategies both within aquaria and out in the field. Our chicks will stay with us until the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) studbook keeper who is based at Edinburgh Zoo, decides where they will go to further strengthen the genetics in the European breeding programme.
In the coming weeks, our team will be able to discover the sex of the chicks from the DNA on their feathers. Keep a close eye on our website and social media as we'll let you know whether we have boys or girls - or both!
Spring has sprung
As Easter approaches, Spring is very much in the air here amongst The Deeps 13 strong colony of Gentoo Penguins. The penguins are courting and pebbles are being passed around left right and centre as each male aims to create the perfect stony nest for his mate to lay her eggs.
During this time you will slowly begin to see nest rings form on the ground and really identify which penguin is paired with who. Even when courting is complete, the penguins will continue to bow their heads regularly to each other to re-affirm their relationship. Although this all sounds very civilised, competition for the best pebbles is at an all-time high and other males can often be seen sneaking around, stealing from other nests if they spy a stone that takes his fancy.
We will keep you updated as the breeding season progresses!
Growing Zebra shark pups
Put on a few pounds during lockdown? Us too. But for our growing young shark pups, this is excellent news! Our 3 baby Zebra sharks, born in 2019, are still behind the scenes, being cared for by our Aquarists.
Our Husbandry Supervisor Tom gives us an update on the 3 girls:
• Petrie Is 9.5 months old and now weighs 2.5kg, she is the baby of the group but is definitely the greediest!
• Cera is 10 months old and weighs 3.2kg she is definitely the most active and spends a lot of time zooming around her enclosure.
• Lil Shosh is almost a year and will turn 1 on the 25th of July, she weighs 3.3kg and is the most chilled out of the 3 girls.
• They all like to eat squid, mackerel and whiting, but by far their favourite is large prawns!
This species is Endangered so it's very important that we consult with the studbook keeper to see how they can contribute to the European breeding programme. A studbook is created for species identified as being at risk and requiring management under a breeding programme.
Meet Timothy, our resident Nurse shark, who joined us in 2014 from Oceanarium Bournemouth.This species is listed as data deficient on the IUCN Red List due to lack of information available.
Measuring in at 2.5 metres in length and weighing a healthy 100kg (a whopping 15 stone). Nurse sharks have powerful crushing jaws which are filled with thousands of tiny, serrated teeth. They inhale their food then blow it out repeatedly when eating which means feeding times for Nurse sharks can be quite noisy and dramatic especially when served their favourites of mackerel and squid and Timothy is no exception!
Nurse sharks like Timothy are slow moving bottom dwellers and can often be found resting on the sea floor during the day. They use a method called Buccal pumping to breathe, they have muscles in their mouth which they use to suck water in and supply oxygen to the gills. Other shark species such as Great whites and Whale sharks are unable to stop swimming at any time, they need to swim continuously so that water constantly flows into their mouths and over there gills supplying oxygen.
Timothy can often be found taking it easy in the Endless Oceans tunnel between the rocks on the left!
We’re telling the tooth!
It's amazing what you find at the bottom of our Endless Oceans tank. It has 2.7 million litres of water in it and 87 tonnes of salt, but guess what other treasures we have found? As you can see our Aquarist, Lloyd has a handful of teeth that he found recently during just one dive.
He told us, "Quite often you spot them at the bottom of the tank, but one dive I decided to spend five minutes or so actively looking for them, and came up with quite a collection!".
The small, largely triangular-shaped teeth are from our Grey Reef and White Tip sharks. It's not a problem when sharks lose their teeth, it's actually a very natural process. Their teeth fall out regularly and are replaced by new ones that grow through in almost a conveyor system. As you can imagine, it's important for such predators to have sharp teeth to enable them to efficiently catch and eat their prey.
The larger tooth you can see is actually from the rostrum, or nose of one of our Green sawfish. They also lose and replace their teeth regularly.
Baby shark do do do do do do…..
In our last newsletter we announced that our female Zebra shark had laid eggs in Endless Oceans which were being incubated behind the scenes. We are delighted to announce that we now have two baby Zebra sharks!
The two females, named Ducky and Lil are being cared for behind the scenes and are gaining weight well. They are being fed 3% of their body weight daily in the form of squid, shrimp and mussels.
These young sharks are striped like Zebras, as they grow into adults these will turn into spots like a leoprad, which is why they are also refrerred to as leopard sharks.
The successful hatching and rearing of these sharks, has offered the opportunity to inject brand new bloodlines into the European Breeding Programme for Zebra Sharks, increasing the genetic diversity of this species within European aquariums.
The threat to Zebra sharks in the wild is increasing and the species has now been reclassified from vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature). This demonstrates a greater need for more education and awareness around the importance of sharks within ocean ecosystems.
Conservation strategies, such as aquarium breeding programmes, are assisting in ensuring that these animals gain the protection they need for the future. It is vital that we consult with the studbook keeper to see how they can contribute to the European breeding programme. We will keep you updated on their progress!
Egg-citing times ahead
After our first success at breeding and rearing these beautiful sharks back in 2015, we are delighted to announce that we have yet more eggs incubating behind the scenes! Taking an average 160 days to hatch, our Aquarists are already preparing for the work ahead.
Our female Zebra shark has been laying eggs for the past few months now within the Endless Oceans display. When found, our Aquarists remove them so that they can check whether or not they contain a yolk. When a yolk is present, these eggs are placed in an isolated incubator where water quality can be strictly managed and any embryo development can be carefully monitored. But the work doesn't end there, once hatched, the Aquarists have to carefully prepare the sharks diet and monitor their rate of growth.
Since our initial success, the threat to Zebra sharks has increased in the wild. The IUCN has reclassified these sharks from Vulnerable to Endangered, demonstrating a greater need for more education and awareness around the importance of sharks within ocean ecosystems. Conservation strategies, such as aquarium breeding programmes, are assisting in ensuring that these animals gain the protection they need for the future.
Our Loggerhead sea turtles Sensa and Mabouche have been getting all the love and attention they need during shut down. Just like humans need vitamins and minerals, so do they! Calcium is a very important mineral for an animal with a shell (or bones!) and these cuttlebones are a great natural source, providing plenty of calcium to keep their shells healthy and strong.
The Aquarists here are letting MaBouche nibble on the cuttlebone, which not only helps to keep her beak healthy, but also provides an enrichment activity – she loves to nibble and play with different textures!
Another source of vitamins for the loggerheads is seaweed. The turtle keepers have found that Sensa, after being fed Nori since she joined us in 2017, actually prefers a different type of seaweed called Wakame, so they have changed her diet to suit. Sushi lovers may be able to appreciate the difference!
Here is some footage of Sensa swimming in a very quiet and deserted Endless Oceans, taken on 30th June 2020 exclusively for our Adopters. She is still very chilled out but we think missing the extra attention from visitors!
As visitors leave The Deep after their visit, we have one more surprise in store. As you exit you can see our turtle-y amazing Yellow spotted Amazon River turtles. Native to the Amazon River Basin, this species are classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist.
Only the males and young females have the yellow head markings and can grow up to 45cm and a top weight of 8kgs, with the females being larger than the males.
These river turtles are diurnal, which means they come out of the water and are active during the day. They spend their time basking in the sun warming themselves on logs, stones or river banks and in the calm pools of the big rivers and streams and feeding on fruit, leaves, fish and molluscs the females will dig burrows
This species of turtle is unable to tuck its head into its shell like others, however it can bend its neck sideways and tuck its head in and under the rim of its shell for protection.
The females dig burrows in the riverbanks to lay their eggs, laying up to 30 eggs per clutch. The hatchlings emerge after 66-159 days and are on their own and completely independent, heading to the water once the yolk sac is absorbed.
Look out for these guys near the gift shop during your next visit.
After several months of rehabilitation in the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, Munchkin was finally healthy enough to be released back into the wild! On 2 July, our staff were delighted to be part of the team who worked together to place a satellite tag on Munchkin and quickly deliver her to a beach in Cape Cod for her release. The beach was brimming with Munchkin’s fans who enthusiastically cheered her on as she crawled down the beach and disappeared into the ocean.
We've loved seeing where rescue turtle Munchkin has traveled to in recent weeks. She 's swum quite a distance from Boston, down the east coast, past New York and almost on to Long Beach. You can see on the map that she is staying in one location for the moment, so she's clearly feeling at home in the warmer waters.
The goal of this programme is to return turtles to the wild. In order to know if rehabilitated sea turtles survive when they are released, researchers use GPS satellite tags to track the animals. The tag on Munchkin is providing researchers with information that tells them whether she has resumed normal Loggerhead behavior and has returned to her old breeding waters.
We have no idea where Munchkin is from or if she will even attempt to make the journey back to her origin. The GPS tag is the only way we will ever find out. With this tag, researchers will be able to tell where Munchkin is within 20 to 30 meters.
The tag works by picking up a radio signal each time she surfaces. The antenna on the tag sends this signal to a satellite that calculates her position. You can view the satellite map to watch where Munchkin goes.
The ocean, and sea turtles like Munchkin, are facing accelerating threats like rapidly rising water temperatures from climate change, islands of floating plastic, and ocean industrialization. These pressing issues inspire all of us to educate and take action to influence global change.
Rescue and rehabilitate leads to release back into the wild
The Deep has been working in the USA to help save injured sea turtles at New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts. Here they rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of injured and sick sea turtles that get stranded on the shores near the aquarium every year.
In the months of November and December, the centre took in over 400 turtles, many of which needed immediate care and were suffering from hypothermia, emaciation, dehydration and other injuries.
Our aquarist Shoshana worked with a very special turtle whilst at New England, a Loggerhead named Munchkin. Weighing in at 330lbs, she is the largest Loggerhead to go through the rehabilitation centre and after months of rehabilitation, was released in July.
Before her release, Munchkin was fitted with a satellite tag so the care team could watch her progress and see where she travelled to. Loggerheads migrate for thousands of miles, but gaining data on a turtle at this stage of life is extremely rare.
Munchkin's satellite tag gives her exact GPS location. This means that it not only accurately shows us exactly what her movements are, but that it would be possible to find her based on the information on the tag if she ever got in trouble or didn't make her way south as the temperatures cool down. This would give the team the option to find her and make a decision on how to best help her at that point.
No, we are not talking soap and wax… but our turtles do enjoy a good scrub! Part of their backbone, a turtle can feel everything through its shell and the gentle sensation created is rather enjoyable, a bit like a massage. But more than just some turtle TLC, there are plenty of health benefits.
In the wild, turtles regularly visit specialised ‘cleaning stations’ where fish are more than happy to pick off dead skin cells and any algae and general detritus clinging to its shell (carapace). Organised just like an underwater ‘car wash’, each day the turtles will take in turns to enter in through one end, be swarmed by hungry fish and leave, squeaky clean, out the other!
Although some element of this does occur within The Deep’s Endless Oceans, our Aquarists offer a helping hand by arming themselves with scrubbing brushes and a bit of elbow grease. The turtles are usually scrubbed every week or two, which helps keep their carapace strong and healthy. This extra bit of care can take place either at the surface after feeding or under the water during a dive. So keep your eyes peeled for 'turtle car wash' on your next visit!