An Enquirer.com Special Section FRIDAY, MAY 14, 1999
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shark

THE AQUARIUM
- Introduction
- Going there
- The murals
- The music
- Shop and Eat
- Beginnings

THE EXHIBITS

- World Rivers
- Shore Gallery
- Touch Pool
- Bizarre & Beautiful
- Dangerous & Deadly
- Riverbank
- 'Gator Bayou
-Amazon Rain Forest
- Coral Reef
- Jellyfish Gallery
- Kingdom of Penguins
- Ray Nursery
- Repopulation
- Surrounded by Sharks

THE STAFF

- Staff and keepers
Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium] [Building image]
Bizarre & Beautiful
Strange, exotic fish of many colors from a page from a Dr. Seuss book

[moray eel] Moray Eel
        Walk through the Moray Eel Hideaway into Bizarre & Beautiful, full of strange and exotic examples of marine life.

        In a dark corner, set apart from the rest of the room, the luminous sacs under the eyes of Flashlight Fish stand out. These fish wink as they hunt for food using their built-in lanterns to light the way.

        Around the corner is a display that takes a page out of a Dr. Seuss book. There are red fish, blue fish, yellow fish, black and white and multicolored fish as part of the Micronesian Palette display.

        Every creature here is a “fish of a different color.” Longhorn Cowfish are slow-moving but boast an almost indefensible suit of armor made from hexagonal plates. The Giant Pacific Octopus can weigh up to 600 pounds and still gets eaten by almost every predator of the sea despite its massive size.

[Plesiosaurus mural] Plesiosaurus Mural
About the artwork
        A 23-foot Plesiosaurus chases four unfortunate fish while flashing an intimidating set of teeth. What look like leg stumps serve as flippers for what is thought to be an extinct predator of the sea.

        Still, legend maintains that a trawler off Japan recovered a carcass of what is thought to be a Plesiosaurus. Perhaps this beast still lives.

        The huge mural fades from light blue at the top to purple near the bottom as the water gets deeper. The Plesiosaurus appears swimming over plants that extend from the floor to the water's surface.

Origins
        Flashlight Fish roam between southern Japan and Australia. The Giant Pacific Octopus is common from Alaska to southern California. Micronesia and the western Pacific serve as home to the Banggai Cardinalfish and the Longhorn Cowfish. King Crabs roam the Northern Pacific Ocean.

Costs
        The Micronesian Palette exhibit is a series of five recessed tanks. Each tank has a color scheme: black and white, yellow, green, red and blue. The acrylic, tank and rock work in this exhibit cost $71,000.

What fish eat
        The Giant Pacific Octopus eats shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams and various fishes. Flashlight Fishes consume small aquatic organisms as does the Banggai Cardinalfish. King Crabs eat worms, clams, mussels, snails, brittle stars, sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, barnacles, crabs, other crustaceans, fish parts, sponges and algae.

How big do they get?
        Giant Pacific Octopuses grow to 30 feet. Longhorn Cowfishes reach close to 20 inches. Flashlight Fishes are capable of growing to 12 inches. Banggai Cardinalfishes reach 3 inches. King Crabs can be up to 4 feet in diameter.

What you won't see
        This exhibit is home to four tanks of live coral. Although coral is an animal, in many ways it acts more like a plant and must be pruned back. Because coral is fragile to handle and endangered, the ability to propagate it is a plus for the aquarium. That's simple: Aquarists break off a branch of live coral, then dry the cut end as much as possible, apply a type of super adhesive and place it where they want it to grow. (In one tank, the coral is growing over red plastic milk crates.) They must be patient. Some varieties of coral only grow one centimeter a month.

Exhibit by the numbers
        13 exhibits

        150 species of animals

        100 species of coral

        1,500 pounds of reef rock was shipped from Fiji for use in just two tanks

        5 tanks in the Micronesian Palette

        5,000 gallons of water in the Micronesian Pallette exhibit.

Stars of the Tank
        Flashlight Fish: Flashlight Fish can wink by exposing and hiding sacs filled with light-producing bacteria under their eyes. The light helps the Flashlight Fish find food at night.

        Giant Pacific Octopus: Because they are so intelligent, Giant Pacific Octopuses can be trained. Known to reach up to 600 pounds, their arms can span as much as 30 feet. The Octopuses also can change colors as they blend in and reach out with their tentacles to snatch prey.

        Banggai Cardinalfish: Unlike most marine animals, the male Banggai Cardinalfish carries larvae in its mouth until they are large enough to feed themselves.

        Longhorn Cowfish: Because it is slow, the Longhorn Cowfish has developed several defense mechanisms. A rigid body, “horns” on the its front and rear and poison-secreting skin protect it from predators.

        King Crab: Before reaching a full size of around 3 feet and 6-10 pounds, the King Crab will periodically shed its outer shell to allow for growth. The legs of this crab are a favorite dish of some seafood lovers.



The Tristate is Goin' Fishin'
Going to the Aquarium
Murals bring seascapes to life
Music sets the mood for 16 exhibits
Shop, eat and watch a movie
The making of an aquarium
World Rivers
Shore Gallery
Touch Pool
- Bizarre & Beautiful
Dangerous & Deadly
Riverbank
'Gator Bayou
Amazon Rain Forest
Coral Reef
Jellyfish Gallery
Kingdom of Penguins
Ray Nursery
Repopulation
Surrounded by Sharks
Meet the staff and keepers

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