The Twelve Days of Fishmas

Maris Wicks recently joined Aquarium divers on an expedition to the Bahamas. She was inspired by her trip, and spending so much time with all those beautiful fish, to create a holiday post for the Divers Blog. Enjoy! And best wishes for a delightful holiday season. — The Dive Team

Greetings humans!  It's me, Maris (previously seen on the Global Explorers blog).

Maris experiencing her very own Fishmas miracle with some salmon.

I was feeling quite festive this holiday season, and I thought that I would share with you one of my favorite carols: The Twelve Days of Fishmas. You heard me correctly: FISHMAS. This song celebrates just a few of the inhabitants of the New England Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank (aka the "G.O.T."). Enjoy (and please feel free to sing along):

The coral reef habitat inside the GOT is actually made of fiberglass! Even though it's not real coral,
it still provides shelter and a place to rest for many of the tank's residents (including this parrotfish).

There are actually four sea turtles in the GOT: one green sea turtle (Myrtle), two loggerhead sea turtles
(Carolina and Retread), and one Kemp's ridley turtle (Ari).  Shown here are Myrtle and Ari.
Oh, and I would also like to mention that turtles are NOT fish; they are reptiles!

French grunts are often found schooling in the lower area of the GOT (and obviously not
in the above formation...they usually swim together in a group,
but not for any fancy Olympic-style synchronized swimming moves).

Peacock flounder, to be exact!  You kind of have to sing this one "Flooooouuunnnder" to make it work with the song.

What would the GOT be without its divers?  They go into the tank five times a day to feed the more than 1,000 animals that call the GOT home, and to clean and maintain the 200,000 gallon tank.  Oh, and divers are NOT fish; they are mammals!

The green moray eels are some of the largest fish in the GOT.  If you see one, it already looks likes it's
caroling on account of the way they open and close their mouths. They are not actually singing;
they are getting more water to pass over their gills via their mouth.
Follow this link to see how we care for our morays.

Snappers are another schooling fish; look for them hanging out with the French grunts!

There are three barracuda in the GOT, and they are most often found at the surface. Look for their black
spots on their back! Oh, and same with the Flounder, sign this one "Barr-a-cuda" to make it work with the song.

This is a rather utopian portrayal of damselfish considering how territorial they tend to be. The defense of
their habitat is not unjustified; damselfish are often protecting a clutch of eggs and have been
the focus of a breeding program here at the New England Aquarium.

ANOTHER schooling fish, lookdowns are often found swimming higher up in the GOT
(hence the whole "lookdown" part of their name).

Pufferfish, balloonfish, porcupinefish...they all have the ability to inflate when threatened
 (see this article for some recent research about HOW they do that).

The GOT is home to one big black drum that likes to hang out on the bottom. Black drums have little fish-beards (ok, the correct term is BARBELS) that help them sense prey. But that's not even the coolest thing about them; they actually DRUM!  Well, they make a noise like a drum. Listen for yourself. Black Drums make this sound with the help of a specialized
organ called a swim bladder. Normally, the swim bladder is used for controlling buoyancy, but in some species of fish,
it also makes sounds.

I hope that you've enjoyed my stirring rendition of The Twelve Days of Fishmas. May your holidays be filled with hot cocoa damelsfish and Candy Cane Shrimps on a Snowy (Grouper) night!


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