Melbourne Aquarium (part 2)

Continued from part 1

The nautilus  has been on the planet around 500 million years. It lives at depth in the Indo-Pacific ocean. I haven’t yet found its shell washed up on a beach, but I’m still looking.

Nautilus Melbourne Aquarium

The very successful nautilus - around for half a billion years so far

These old wives (Enoplosus armatus, found only from southern Queensland to south-western Western Australia) are not flying, but the exhibit contains an old wall they are swimming past. The name apparently comes from the sound their teeth make when they are caught on a fishing line.

Old wife Melbourne Aquarium

Old wives

The peculiar fish below is a tasselled anglerfish (Rhycherus filamentosus). Like other anglerfish, it has a fleshy appendage above its mouth to attract prey (it’s that U-shape on its head). It sits quietly, dangling its worm-like appendage, then gulps any small fish and crustaceans that get close enough. It lives only in southern Australian waters from mid-South Australia, around Tasmania to the Victorian/NSW border.

Tasselled anglerfish Melbourne Aquarium

Tasselled anglerfish

Another unique Australian fish is the warty prowfish (Aetapcus maculatus). It lives only from northern Tasmania to central Western Australia. You can read about its peculiar skin-shedding behaviour if you click on its name above.

Warty prowfish Melbourne Aquarium

Warty prowfish

On to sharks … the epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) has been found in the northern half of Australian waters and the southern half of Papua New Guinea.

Epaulette shark Melbourne Aquarium

Epaulette shark - it takes its name from the two round markings near its head

Some of our small sharks have very identifiable egg cases which are sometimes washed up on beaches.

Shark egg cases Melbourne Aquarium

Here’s the key …

Shark egg cases ID Melbourne Aquarium

And here’s a live Port Jackson shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) – its egg case is top right of the photo above…

Port Jackson shark Melbourne Aquarium

Port Jackson shark

Australia is world-famous for many feared sharks. Shark attacks still make big news here, even though there seems more tolerance – there are few revenge killings these days. The truth is that we are eating far more of them than they do of us – 100 million a year (11,000 an hour) commercially and recreationally, as opposed to about 15 humans being eaten by sharks a year. Think more than twice about your next fish and chips – the fish is likely to be shark. You can find out about the most sustainable fish to eat in Australia and get a free iPhone app here. I imagine there are similar resources in other countries – at least I hope so.

The movie Jaws and others like it have done a lot of damage to the shark’s reputation. A work colleague once commented that she would be happy to see sharks going extinct as she was so scared of them. She may very well get her wish.

Sharks are fascinating in many ways – for instance, they have a continual stream of teeth that move forward from the previous row to replace those in the front row. Here’s a jaw of a grey nurse (the endangered Carcharius taurus) on display at the Melbourne Museum …

Grey nurse jaw Melbourne Museum

Grey nurse jaw - note the rows of teeth stacked behind each other

If you think we have big sharks now, just be glad you’re not alive at the same time as this one …

Megalodon Melbourne Aquarium

Megalodon jaw; photo by Andrew Roberts

It’s the megalodon, Carcharodon megalodon, up to 17 metres in length, which lived 17 million to 2 million years ago.

Here’s a size comparison …

Megalodon size chart

Megalodon (top) size comparison

And from the massive to the lightweight … the delicate and filmy moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) are calming to watch. They are abundant wordwide.

Moon jellies

Moon jellies

And still on the subject of transparency … glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis) are native to parts of Indonesia and Borneo, and eat insect larvae.

Glass catfish Melbourne Aquarium

Glass catfish; photo by Andrew Roberts

And finally … underwater feeding sessions are entertaining and a good way to give information. This shot is just begging for a funnier caption. Any ideas?

Rayman

“What was that, Bruce? Bruce?” One reason why divers wear hard helmets during ray-feeding time

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4 Responses to Melbourne Aquarium (part 2)

  1. Denis Wilson says:

    Hi Joy.
    Fascinating post, with lots of information.
    That Shark jaw model is impressive, and the graphic makes even more sense.
    We all know how big a bus is.
    Cheers
    Denis

  2. Joy Window says:

    Thanks, Denis. A picture and a thousand words, and all that.

  3. Cath Clark says:

    Moby Dick lives. What an odd nickname for the elegant chambered nautilus… Old Wives

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