New large marine fish and ray arrivals sure to be a crowd pleaser
On Wednesday 15th November 2017, Cairns Aquarium introduced two large marine fish and five stingrays to the 1.5 million litre Great Barrier Reef oceanarium. A 1.2m humphead maori wrasse, a malabar grouper and five cow nose rays will join the scalloped hammerhead sharks, leopard shark, porcupine rays and predatory schooling fish that already call the oceanarium home.
Listed as endangered, the turquoise and green coloured humphead maori wrasse is an iconic reef species often appearing in ads and a favourite with scuba divers and snorkelers on the outer reef. The malabar grouper is another very large species that is highly pattered and regularly seen on the reef despite its near threatened classification. Both species also have unique reproductive cycles as these fishes at some point in their lifespan change sex from female to male.
"Having these two very colourful, distinctive patterned fish in the exhibit will add an entirely new dimension to the aquarium visitor experience by letting people see more of the larger specimens that are found on the Reef. The humphead wrasse is so engaging to visitors with its prominent forehead and bluberry lips and often enjoys watching people and follows them around. When people hear that it is one of the few predators of the toxic crown of thorns starfish, this will only add to its allure" said General manager Julie Cullen.
The cow nose rays are a type of eagle ray and while their colouration is not particularly distinctive, their shape is easily recognizable. They have a distinctive bi-lobed head, with two large fleshy lobes under their snout which makes them very easy to identify as they cruise through the oceanarium.
For Head Curator Ramon Barbosa, the increase in animal diversity and the arrival of the larger sized animals is an event that he has been looking forward to with great anticipation.
"We needed to be sure the hammerheads settled in with a regular feeding routine before we could make any new additions to our largest exhibit but it's always exciting for the curatorial team to have these bigger animals in the water with them. Working with these iconic species makes for a more interesting day and it always provides a spectacle when we dive with them for feeding and observation purposes" explained Head Curator Ramon Barbosa.