Melbourne Aquarium (part 1)

My satellite hardware has now been replaced – yay! Five weeks without home internet access has been very frustrating, especially having to drive into town almost every working day to check work email. But that’s over now, and the new connection is about four times faster than the old one so the World Wide Wait is a little shorter.

We spent a week in Melbourne recently, and I’ll write about that later. First I want to tell you about the Melbourne Aquarium. I’m fond of aquariums as I get to cheat and see my favourite animals – the underwater ones – with little effort. I wrote about the Georgia Aquarium a while ago – the Melbourne Aquarium is much smaller but it has some good exhibits.

Penguins are popular exhibits in aquariums – these gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) and king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are not too far from their homes. Considering Melbourne’s weather at times, they probably feel right at home!

Gentoo penguin Melbourne Aquarium

Gentoo penguin – some were moulting and looking a little fluffy

King penguin Melbourne Aquarium

King penguins - like all penguins they are active swimmers

Cuttlefish are also popular exhibits, although they don’t tend to live long even in the wild – one to three years. This one is a (small) giant cuttlefish.

Giant cuttlefish Melbourne Aquarium

A small giant cuttlefish; photo by Andrew Roberts

Giant cuttlefish gather to breed at the top of Spencer Gulf, South Australia. The last breeding season was a bit of a disaster. Instead of the usual 200,000, only about 20,000 were estimated to have shown up. No one knows why.

Here’s a common or eastern stargazer (Kathetostoma laeve), native to southern Australian waters from South Australia to southern (or northern, depending on which reference source you use) New South Wales. These fish, up to 75 cm in length, are ambush predators, burying themselves in the sand and leaping out to grab fish, squid and crustaceans.

Stargazer Melbourne Aquarium

Common stargazer

Next is a threadfin trevally (Alectis indica). These juveniles have long trailing fins, looking like jellyfish tentacles. They live in warmer waters, also starting at about the level of Perth in WA and the NSW/Vic border on the east coast and moving north. The highly reflective silver skin surface flashes as the fish shimmers through the water.

Threadfin trevally Melbourne Aquarium

Threadfin trevally; photo by Andrew Roberts

The fish below looks like a parrotfish of some sort – I love the skin patterns. I couldn’t find it in any of my reference books on Australian fish, though. Perhaps it’s not Australian.

Parrotfish Melbourne Aquarium

Lionfish (also known as butterfly cod, Pterois volatins) are gorgeous but their spines are deadly …

Lionfish Melbourne Aquarium

The lionfish swim by, calm and collected

Here’s another tough customer, the deadly and cryptic reef stonefish (Synanceia horrida). It reportedly has the most deadly venom of any fish on the planet – and it’s ours (my chest swells with pride)!

Stonefish  Melbourne Aquarium

On to delicate ones … big-belly seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis) grow up to 26 cm, and the big bellies of the males carry eggs which develop into young seahorses, which pop out when they are big enough to survive on their own. They eat small shrimps and crustaceans.

Big-belly seahorses Melbourne Aquarium

Big-belly seahorses

… the lovely common (or weedy) sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), which is not so common and is found in the wild only in southern Australian waters. Melbourne Aquarium is one of only three aquariums in the world to successfully breed them …

Weedy seadragon Melbourne Aquarium

Weedy sea dragon

Closely related is the spectacular, drifty, leafy sea dragon …

Leafy seadragon Melbourne Aquarium

Leafy sea dragon (left), weedy on the right

There were eels …

white-eyed moray, Siderea thyrsoidea, Melbourne Aquarium

White-eyed moray, Siderea thyrsoidea

… and more eels …

Eels 2 Melbourne Aquarium

Possibly the white-speckled moray, Gymnothorax eurostus (rear)

and beautifully patterned small rays …

Ray Melbourne Aquarium

More in part 2.

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7 Responses to Melbourne Aquarium (part 1)

  1. Rebecca says:

    Great photos. About the stonefish, aren’t ALL the most deadly venomous creatures in the world Australian?? Sure seems that way.

  2. Joy Window says:

    Thanks, Rebecca. Yes, it sure seems that way sometimes and we do have our fair share. I just did an internet search for lists of dangerous creatures and there are many other deadly non-Australian critters – for instance, king cobra, Brazilian wandering spider, poison dart frogs, Cape buffalo, African elephant and, number one, the mosquito. I’ve also heard hippopotamuses kill a lot of people. Guess we’re just lucky “down under” 🙂

  3. Denis Wilson says:

    Hi Joy.
    Well, you certainly get around. Tintagel, Melbourne.
    My favourites here are the Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragons.

  4. Cath Clrak says:

    Enchanting. That photo Andrew took of the blue trevally is outstanding

  5. Pingback: Melbourne Aquarium (part 2) | A-roving I will go

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