Over the next 3 months, every Tuesday after hours, we have a group of very special visitors roaming the Aquarium galleries: students of the Biology of Fishes class. This 300-level course is given by the Marine Studies Consortium. It focuses on the differences and diversity among fishes, and combines traditional ichthyology (taxonomy, anatomy, and distribution) with fish ecology (species interactions, adaptations, behavior, and conservation). Each week, particular groups of fishes are focused on, starting with those that have the longest evolutionary history to those that we think have most recently evolved.
The coolest part about this class? It's taught here at the New England Aquarium, which provides the students with the unique opportunity to study living organisms.
I was a student in this class 3 years ago, and I learned a lot! Well, enough that I was asked to be a T.A. this semester, along with Brian, who above is showing off his coral cat shark (Atelomycterus marmoratus) in the Pacific Reef Community exhibit. This week, the focus was on elasmobranchs: sharks and rays. The G.O.T. exhibits 4 species of elasmos:
- sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus
- nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum
- southern stingray, Dasyatis americana
- cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus
After showing the students all the represented species for the week, we release them to make colored drawings of two different fish, which can be harder than you may think since they are swimming!
Here, Emily is having a go at the southern stingray resting on top of the reef.
The sandy bottom community tank in the Gulf of Maine exhibit showcases a number of skates, which are popular sketch fishes.
I'm glad to be a part of this class, because it's both fun and educational, and it keeps me sharp. In two weeks, I'll be back at it, educating the students on 3 more G.O.T. species: tarpon, green moray eel, and spotted moray eel.