Reef HQ Aquarium and Cairns Aquarium collaborate for conservation
Monday March 19th will see the first collaboration between North Queensland’s two aquariums, Reef HQ Aquarium and Cairns Aquarium. This partnership will see Cairns Aquarium take delivery of two highly venomous Olive sea snakes that were born and reared at Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville. These two snakes will find their new home in the Cairns Aquarium “Dangers of the Reef “exhibit. Animal exchange between aquariums is a common practise. When aquarium animals give birth, succession plans need to be in place for the offspring as they grow. It is also essential to manage the gene pool of captive populations.
This exchange is one that both aquariums will derive benefit from however the greatest benefit for the sea snake population is that they do not need to be taken from the wild. Head Curator for Reef HQ Aquarium Stephen Menzies said “This collaboration allows Reef HQ Aquarium to house the surplus offspring in a suitable environment, while also reducing the impact on wild populations. Both aquariums expect the exchange to be very successful as these snakes are perfectly adapted to living in captivity.”
General Manager of Cairns Aquarium Julie Cullen said “Aquariums and zoos all over the world collaborate for conservation outcomes and our curatorial team is definitely looking forward to moving these olive sea snakes into their new home and learning more about captive bred sea snake husbandry and management. They are also sure to be a big hit with the public”.
The Olive sea snake is the most common sea snake on the coral reefs of eastern Australia found along lower reef edges and upper lagoon slopes of leeward reefs. It is extremely venomous and gives birth to live young.
On April 29th, 2017 Reef HQ Aquarium awoke to discover their Olive sea snake had given birth to three babies. To their knowledge, this was the first time successful captive breeding of sea snakes had been achieved in an aquarium. The babies have continued to be reared successfully and during the past week Reef HQ Aquarium were able to sex the sea snakes, to discover they were all female.
Data on the snakes:
Nearly one year ago when the sea snakes were born they measured approximately 45 centimetres and weighed 100 grams. Those moving to Cairns are now 70 and 80 centimetres in length and weigh 300 and 400 grams, respectively.