Blog #9: Catch and Slow Release

As I said before, it'll be quite a while until these newbie fishes join the rest of the gang in the GOT. Even when they're all cleared for parasites, there's a gradual process to placing them in the exhibit space.

It can take a while for the fishes to get used to their new homes. For example, Sherrie Floyd, one of our Aquarists and a veteran of these collecting trips, says that once the rare indigo hamlets get used to their new environment they will become very energetic. With that beautiful blue coloring, they're a real crowd pleaser in the holding tanks already (see below). But it takes a while for the Bahamian fishes to become comfortable at the Aquarium.

One of the indigo hamlets (Hypoplectrus indigo) in its storage tank

Fortunately, unlike the Bahamian grunt roundup, this acclimation process is something that visitors get to see happen! This summer you might come to the Aquarium and see orange and green barrels placed around the GOT. The barrels are used to help fishes ease into their new homes.

After a while, the divers open the acclimation barrel to see if the fish is comfortable enough to come out. If the fish isn't comfortable, the divers close up the barrel overnight. They repeat this process until the fish is swimming free in the coral reef.

This is what is going to happen for most of the 377 fishes we brought back from the Bahamas. So come on down to Central Wharf and see if you can spot the new fish in the barrels.

Here's what to look for:

Blog #8: The Debriefing

So, how do you get 377 fishes from Miami to Boston? It's a process that our trip leaders have honed to the finest detail. Each fish is carefully packed in plastic bags filled with oxygenated water. The plastic bags are sealed and placed in styrofoam liners which fit into a larger cardboard box.

In the end, it looks like this:

Back in Boston, there's a rush of activity when the fishes arrive. Each box is carefully unpacked, and each species is labeled and placed in holding tanks:

These fishes go through a quarantine that can last over a month. During this time, the fishes are carefully screened for parasites and are receive treatment accordingly. Since that process is done in waves, it may be several months until all of the fish we collected are placed in Aquarium exhibits.

In the meantime, each fish has time to acclimate to their new home. The Aquarists aren't just looking out for them physically, they're careful not to shock each fish mentally by introducing them to tanks too fast. You can see that the parrotfish is still shy because it takes advantage of the hiding places in its tank.

Meanwhile, the schooling fish are given larger tanks to move around in. The copper sweepers that Captain Lou chased out of the dark cave in the Bahamas are looking right at home in their temporary tank:

As are the Bahamian grunts, the first fish I helped collect: