The Deep News - January 2019



25th January 2019

The BIAZA Big Fish Campaign is back and the launch has kick-started at The Deep with the Big Fish Fortnight. 

Aquariums across the country will be rallying together once more this year to demonstrate their support for the BIAZA Big Fish Campaign.

Each year, British and Irish Zoos and Aquariums are inundated with requests to rehome animals that have ‘outgrown’ their home aquarium.

In a bid to raise awareness of the larger freshwater species such as catfish, arrowana and silver sharks - to name just a few - the UK’s dedicated aquarium community will be hosting a number of engaging activities and events to separate fact from fiction when it comes to selecting and caring for fish in home aquariums.

Joined by Buster, the life size Red-tailed catfish, the Big Fish Tour will be hitting the road, on a mission to raise the profile of these aquatic giants and remind potential owners of the importance of research before committing to buy.

The campaign is not looking to ban certain fish from being sold or push for restrictive licensing, it’s quite the opposite. The aim of the campaign is to develop a more responsible attitude amongst fish keepers (both beginner and advanced), retailers and wholesalers/breeders and therefore improve the welfare of these tank busting species.

The Deep has launched the 'Big Fish Fortnight' to kick things off. From 21 Jan - 3 Feb we are offering activities and presentations to appeal to both adults and families, generating awareness of the importance of reading all you can about your fish before bringing them into your home. Visitors can take part in a trail – finding life-size clues on the floor of the attraction, attend regular Big Fish presentations, or make a badge with our Guides to show their support.

Find your nearest BIAZA aquarium here:



9th January 2019

Following on from completing her training period early last year, Deep Aquarist Shoshana, returned to the New England Aquarium Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 415 turtles were admitted into the hospital this winter, so she has been putting into practise valuable skills that aim to save the lives of hundreds of these endangered and iconic creatures.

Thrown into the thick of it, Shoshana has been working hard with the team, assisting in the rehabilitation of stranded turtles, administering immediate and vital care to get them back onto the road of recovery.

As winter approaches, sea turtles should make their way south to warmer tropical waters as the waters around Cape Cod Bay becomes too cold. However, each year many turtles do not make the journey in time. Trapped by the hook shape of the bay, the turtles can become disoriented. When the water reaches about 10°C by mid-November, the turtles are too cold to eat, drink or swim and become “cold-stunned”, stranding themselves on the beach. Often they are suffering from life-threatening hypothermia, emaciation, dehydration or injuries. 

Shoshana says “Every year there are mass stranding’s of cold stunned sea turtles around November and December. This year the New England Aquarium Rescue Centre took in more than 400 turtles making it one of their busiest seasons.  The majority of the turtles rescued are Kemp’s Ridley Sea turtles, one of the most endangered species in our oceans. 

“As soon as the turtles arrived at the centre, it was all hands on deck to get them into a stable condition as quickly as possible. Their body temperature is taken and heart rate checked, because of their solid shell this has to be taken through the shoulder. It’s important to warm the turtle’s slowly as increasing their temperature too quickly could be harmful. When they come in, they are placed in pools at 12.5°C, this is then increased by 5 degrees each day until they are well enough to go into the largest pool, which is maintained at 22°C.

“The coldest turtle I held was a Kemp’s Ridley whose internal temperature was 7.4°C. It was so cold in my hands, I couldn’t believe it was still alive! I also helped with turtles that were very weak and not breathing well. We offered them more assistance by placing them on a neoprene ‘surfboard’ to help keep them afloat until they are strong enough to break the surface and take good breaths on their own”.

“Collaborating with the New England Aquarium rescue staff was an amazing experience.  The opportunity to assist and learn from them was invaluable.  I am happy to work for an aquarium that supports conservation and takes part in programs that have such a direct impact on sea turtle conservation.  It was incredible to be a part of saving so many endangered species.”

There are a number of centres on standby to assist in caring for the huge volume of turtles, so occasionally some are moved to other parts of the USA. Co-ordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), pilots transport the stronger, more stable turtles further south to alternative facilities to finish their rehabilitation period. Each turtle is continually and critically assessed until they are deemed strong enough to return to the ocean and complete their migration down to warmer waters.

Connie Merigo, Rescue Department Manager at the New England Aquarium said “Shoshana proved herself quite the capable work force, with her seasoned instincts and judgement, it was easy to see that she has years of experience in Aquaria behind her. She had retained all of what she had learnt through her training period earlier in the year and was ready to get to work when she arrived on her first day. Quick to pick up skills in a number of procedures, she was able to rotate through a number of group specialities including the critical swim group, food group and transport group. The centre certainly benefited from her experience of working with marine turtles, she was a very productive member of the team during an incredibly busy season.

“We are currently entering the last phase of our admissions. With a total of 415 being admitted into our hospital, it has put the 2018/2019 season in second place for the highest number of turtles being treated.”

The Deep is proud to be continuing to support and assist our colleagues ‘over the pond’ in the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles. This vital work is proving crucial to safeguarding the future of one of the world’s most iconic ocean dwelling creatures.



3rd January 2019

The breeding of aquatic animals is an incredibly complex science and determining the correct diet and environment to enable larval fish to develop into adults is particularly challenging. The larvae of many tropical fish species are so small, that they are invisible to the naked eye, and their food source is even more microscopic.

As the world’s aquatic species face increasing threats due to climate change, overfishing, pollution and the illegal wildlife trade, research is vital to increase knowledge and breeding capabilities – and as this research is difficult in the wild, aquariums provide an invaluable research platform.

Due to their expertise and resources, aquarists from the UK’s leading aquarium teams are leading the way in the improvement of breeding techniques to increase global understanding of marine animals and their breeding cycles, and ultimately support global conservation efforts to crack down on the illegal trade of fish and other aquatic life.

ZSL, The Deep, SEA LIFE, and Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences are working on a landmark new research programme to improve aquarium breeding success - the SustaiNable Aquarium project (SNAP), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government’s SMARTExpertise programme.

An initial 20 species - key to the health of coral reefs but which have not yet been successfully bred in aquariums - are the initial focus of the project. Corals are part of a delicate tropical ecosystem and require specific tropical fish in order to thrive, including species of butterflyfish, rabbitfish, wrasse and tangs.

Projects like SNAP will advance aquaculture techniques and help boost marine species which are near threatened or endangered, while highlighting the collective awareness that aquariums have an important role to play in the future of our conserving our oceans.

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