The Deep News - April 2019

Banner TURTLE REHAB AND RELEASE CONTINUES ACROSS THE WATER

TURTLE REHAB AND RELEASE CONTINUES ACROSS THE WATER

21st April 2019

At the end of 2018, Deep Aquarist Shoshana helped to rehabilitate cold stunned sea turtles at the New England Aquarium Rescue Centre. Located on the East Coast of the United States, in Boston Massachusetts, the centre took in over 400 cold stunned turtles during November and December.

While Shoshana’s involvement may be done for this season, the centre is still very busy caring for the turtles to get them ready for release in the coming months. One of these is number 266, dubbed Munchkin by the rescue staff, it is the largest loggerhead to come through the centre, weighing 300 pounds (136kg). 

Connie Merigo, Rescue Department Manager at the New England Aquarium has told us that 266 has regained enough weight to fill out and now physically looks like an adult Loggerhead. Following the completion of a few more tests, we keep our fingers crossed that she will be released later in the year.

Staff from the New England Aquarium Rehabilitation Centre will also be departing soon for the warmer waters of Florida. Travelling in a climate controlled SUV they will be transporting at least one Loggerhead and ten Kemp’s Ridley turtles to release them into the ocean on the 22nd April - marking the moment for World Earth Day.

With many still under care at sites across the US, the final numbers for release this year are yet to be confirmed. Committed to continuing our support for this project, we will continue to follow up with Connie and her team over the coming months, with a final summary of the season’s success revealed later this summer.

Banner BREEDING SUCCESS FOR ENDANGERED FISH

BREEDING SUCCESS FOR ENDANGERED FISH

21st April 2019

Behind the scenes our Aquarists not only work to conserve the large animals, but the smaller, lesser known creatures too. These little killifish are an endangered species. Isolated to the remote lakes in Madagascar, they can be found nowhere else on the planet. 

A pink-tinged, rounder tummy is a sign that a female is gravid (has eggs) and is ready to mate, so our team have created separate nursery habitats to offer a safe and robust spawning site. They have developed small floating blocks, complete with with thick cotton tendrils that trail deep into the water column to act as artifical spawning site. These replicate the root systems of floating plants – a preferred egg laying spot for this species. When ready, a male is introduced for spawning to take place.

After a couple of days, the female is removed and the eggs left to incubate. With continued monitoring and water care, the eggs will hatch after just a few weeks. Despite only being millimetres in size, they are fully independent.These habitats will act as a nursery until the juveniles are big enough to move into the main display.

The Deep is working with ZSL London Zoo to raise more awareness around the importance of killifish to their natural range, with an aim to help safeguard them for the future. 

You can see the adult Madagascan killifish within the Deep Blue One: Rivers Zone. 

Banner MARTI THE HAMMERHEAD SHARK

MARTI THE HAMMERHEAD SHARK

15th April 2019

The Deep has donated £750 towards a new children's book by our friends at Galapagos Conservation Trust.

The book follows Marti the Hammerhead shark as she embarks on her migration between Galapagos and Cocos island, Costa Rica. During her journey, Marti has to navigate the dangers posed to marine life, meeting friends along the way as well as the scientists that are working to protect her migration route.

The book has been made possible through a crowdfunding campaign and after reaching the target amount of £7,500, the charity will be able to fulfil their goal of distributing the books into every school in Galapagos. This, alongside community events for local families, will help to engage young children with marine conservation, which is so vital for the unique islands they call home.

The Scalloped hammerhead shark, along with many other shark species native to the islands, is classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. They are increasingly targeted by commercial and illegal fisheries for their fins as these are highly valued in the Asian market for shark fin soup. They are also very vulnerable to being caught as by-catch by trawls, purse-seine nets, gillnets and longlines. By raising awareness and using tagging technology, the hope is to create a protected swimway for the hammerheads so their migration route is safe from these threats.

The Deep has been working with Galapagos Conservation Trust since 2014 when they became the first recipients of funds from Project Penguin, an inititive by The Deep to contribute to worldwide penguin conservation. To this date the Deep has donated £25,000 to GCT who are working to conserve the Galapagos penguin, the rarest penguin species in the world.

You can get your fins on a copy of 'Marti the Hammerhead Shark' from The Deep’s gift shop when the first edition is printed in the summer.

You can follow the project here.

Banner EASTER ‘EGG’ HUNT FOR SHARK CONSERVATION

EASTER ‘EGG’ HUNT FOR SHARK CONSERVATION

11th April 2019

Despite the chilly weather, we had an egg-cellent turn out for the first shark egg case hunt of the year. Taking place at the Spurn Point Nature Reserve, over 60 volunteers turned out to join in the hunt for the elusive mermaids purses, washed ashore amongst the strandline.

24 egg cases of the Lesser-spotted catshark were uncovered. All those found during the event were empty, which means that these have likely hatched a healthy pup, now living somewhere along the Yorkshire coastline. Also discovered during the hunt, was a deceased adult catshark which had been washed ashore. Although a sad find, this offered a unique opportunity for participants to gain a closer look at our native sharks and learn more about the biology of these animals.

The egg cases found have since been submitted to the Shark Trust to be included within their database. This information is crucial for monitoring the populations of egg laying sharks and rays, identifying locations for potential nursery grounds that may require future protection.

Heading to the beach soon? Anyone can contribute to this Citizen Science activity. With a simple stroll on the sand you can actively get involved with shark conservation and help make in difference for the protection of these highly misunderstood creatures.

Download the free iPhone or Android app (search ST Eggcase) and upload details with your photo and location.

Our next egg case hunt events will be taking place on 27 July and 17 August at Spurn Point. 

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