Ever seen a fish that poops sand? Or one with a trunk-like snout? While these may seem like #fakenews, fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Meet these five quirky residents at S.E.A. Aquarium – the stars of this year’s Spooky Seas:
Bumphead parrotfish are recognised by their bulbous forehead and powerful beak that allows them to crush corals and to scrape algae (their main diet) off the rocks. By pruning the corals and removing the algae and parasites that compete with these corals, bumpheads play an important role in maintaining healthy coral reef ecosystems.
Their beaks and jaws are so strong that they grind the corals they eat into sand. This sand is later excreted from their body, and turned into the foundation of islands and sandy beaches.
Commonly known as an elephant shark or a ghost shark, the elephant fish is not a shark. Instead, it is a member of the chimaera family – a primitive group of fish that are distant cousins of sharks and rays, and have existed long before the dinosaurs.
The elephant fish is so-named because of its flexible, trunk-like projection at the tip of its long snout which it uses to probe the sea floor for food, such as shellfish, small fishes and invertebrates. Though they can be found in the shallow waters of Australia and New Zealand during breeding season, they tend to spend most of their time in waters at depths of 2,500 metres.
The American paddlefish is a freshwater giant whose spatula-shaped rostrum can measure up to one third its total length. The rostrum is covered in electroreceptors that allows it to find plankton, its favourite food. A filter feeder, the paddlefish feeds by swimming through the water with its mouth wide open.
Often regarded as one of the scariest freshwater fishes in the world, the payara or vampire fish is found in the Amazon basin. The fish uses its sharp fangs, which can grow up to five centimetres long, to impale its prey. Despite the name, the vampire fish does not suck blood. It feeds on smaller fishes.
Tasselled Wobbegong Shark
The tassled wobbegong is a type of carpet shark which spends most of its time on the ocean floor. Instead of actively looking for food or chasing after prey, wobbegongs are effective ambush predators, using their barbels to attract curious prey closer. Their greenish-brownish skin is covered in a unique pattern of bold markings, which helps camouflage them against the sand while waiting for prey to come near.
Read about the birth of the first tasselled wobbegong pups at S.E.A. Aquarium.
Spooky Seas (1 Sep – 28 Oct 2018)
Join us at S.E.A. Aquarium to come up-close with these weird and wonderful animals, and learn more about them as part of our annual family-friendly Spooky Seas event.
Kids can also take part in a scavenger hunt to learn about these quirky species at interactive stations around the aquarium.