The weekend. Yesterday, we went to the Aquarium and saw their Pink Meanie, and I found just how difficult it is to shoot jellyfish in a barrel cylindrical poly-carbonate tank.
Then this morning, the beagle got (slightly) eaten at the Beagle Run: ruining my plans for using its ears as coffee coasters once it has joined the choir invisible, and resulting in several (or more) Rands in vet’s fees.
Isopods refer to a group of crustaceans that include terrestrial and aquatic species like woodlice and rock lice. Some isopods eat decaying plant and animal matter, others graze on food particles from the water around them, a few are predators, and some are internal or external parasites.
Also, my dodgy Latin says they all have the same number of feet. Or something.
You can go and have a look at the photos of this rather extraordinary “bloom” on the link above. there are an awful lot of them (Isopods, not photos). It’s fascinating, but apparently it does cause some issues for the aquarium:
Much of the water for our exhibits is from the harbour surrounding our building, and we’ve had to shut down our intake pipes. Once all the isopods die off – also as a result of oxygen deprivation – they will sink to the bottom. Then, once oxygen levels go back up (because there are fewer organisms in the water using this oxygen now) the dead isopod bodies will start decomposing like mad. This will cause an ammonia spike in the water, making the water toxic to the animals in our exhibits and so still not suitable for our use. We will be keeping the Aquarium’s life-support system on a closed system until the water quality returns to normal.
I’m not sure how long the aquarium can keep their life-support systems off, but if it’s anything like the Starship Enterprise (spoiler: it’s not), then I don’t think it’s very long at all before the guy in the red shirt suffocates. Hopefully this won’t be the case at the aquarium, because it would be nice to not have to step over dead bodies as we’re having a look round on the weekend.
With the cat away (the cat is mostly in Budapest this week), the mice will head down to the Two Oceans Aquarium and learn about the progress of their new exhibit, before going on an excellent behind the scenes tour.
For a start, the passion of the staff is clearly evident. From the friendly greeting, through to the knowledgeable and infectious enthusiasm of Mike de Maine, the Technical Manager, everyone was keen to educate the visitors and answer any queries. Breakfast was served, my kids ate about seventy-four croissants each and we looked at technical plans and 3D renderings of the new section of the aquarium. Mike – who is project managing the work – showed us photos of the new build and shared some of the difficulties that they have experienced: from the unusually varied rock structure underneath the site through to the metalworkers’ strike, which is threatening to push the opening of the new tank back. We were given some startling numbers about cost, concrete and steelwork (I’ll have to look these up, but suffice to say that they were all very big). Also big are the stats on the new tank, from the huge, single-piece 350mm thick acrylic windows to the 10m long tunnel.
And then curator Michael Farquhar gave us a quick run down of the complex operation coming up when they will have to transfer the fish from the current tank to the new one and the challenges that they face in doing it. One of things I didn’t realise is that the old tanks (the Kelp Tank and the Predator Exhibit) are leaking and need repairs. There will need to be some shifting around of stock in order for these repairs to be done – all while the aquarium remains open and the public enjoy their visit. Tough ask.
Finally, we headed backstage and had a look at the surprisingly shabby roof areas, including the top of the predator and kelp tanks – complete with penguins chilling out on the roof. Sadly, the light wasn’t great and my camera has gone to Hungary with the cat, so please excuse the photos.
This is the top of the I&J Predator Exhibit:
And part of the filter room, “something” in the lab and a kitchen shopping list.
You can see some more of my photos here, and some of Mike’s from the building site here.
All in all, a pretty cool and educational couple of hours, and if you are members at the aquarium (and if you’re in Cape Town and you have kids, you really should be) then get yourself along to the next members breakfast – really interesting stuff, nice people and a great way to spend a Saturday morning.