aquarium staff

After four years alone, female shark has babies without a male mate

  • Leonie, a female zebra shark in Australia, had three offspring in early 2016 after being completely isolated from males for roughly four years.
  • According to New Scientist, Leonie was first paired with a male at an Australian aquarium in 1999; the couple had over two dozen babies.
  • In 2012, aquarium staff moved Leonie’s partner to another tank, leaving her alone— which is why scientists were stunned when she gave birth.
  • How did it happen? It could be because of a kind of biological contingency plan for if there are no male sharks around.
  • According to New Scientist, sharks are capable of asexual reproduction if there’s a genetically identical cell called a sister polar body nearby to fertilize it.  Read more

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They’re baaaaaaack!

After their surprise resurgence into the Monterey Bay back in October, pelagic red crabs have returned! Also known as tuna crabs because of their natural affinity for being fast food for fast fish, these colorful crustaceans cruised into our Great Tide Pool this morning.

Pushed in by the high tide and the solid winter swell, Aquarium visitors and staff willing to brave the rain on a gray Monterey day were treated to a rare sight to sea. Indeed, before late last year, pelagic red crabs had not been seen in the bay since the massive El Niño of 1983. Usually found off of Baja and southern California, these bio-indicators of warm water and shifted currents have once again found prime conditions to invade—and be ingested—off our back deck.

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Octopus escaped New Zealand aquarium, is probably coming for you next

In April Inky the octopus tentacled his way down a drainpipe and into the ocean, also to freedom. Aquarium staff aren’t exactly sure how Inky escaped his watery prison, but it assuredly involved him sneaking through an impossibly small space. Because they have neither endo- nor exoskeletons, octopi can do this — it also doesn’t hurt that they’re essentially geniuses.

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This gif is a clip from a National Geographic video filmed at an aquarium. 

The staff kept finding dead spiny dogfish sharks on the floor of the tank and decided to investigate. The culprit turned out to a be an octopus. The aquarium assumed that the octopus would use it’s color changing camouflage as a defense mechanism to avoid the sharks, but it instead wiped out its enemies in return for a safe environment.

The squee heard ‘round the world!

As you probably know by now, a wild baby sea otter was born this morning in our Great Tide Pool! For the last several days, a wild female sea otter had been using the protected basin of our Great Tide Pool to rest from the winter storms. Last night, just as the Aquarium closed, she was spotted once again slinking into the pool for some shut-eye. It’s rare for a healthy sea otter to visit the pool so frequently—we started to wonder if she was doing all right.

Well, mystery solved! Around 8:30 a.m., Aquarium staff witnessed a BRAND NEW pup resting on her belly, being furiously groomed by a proud momma. We’re talking umbilical-chord-still-attached, whoa-is-that-yep-that’s-the-placenta new-born otter pup!

In steady waves, Aquarium staff, volunteers, and then the days’ visitors made their way to the back deck to watch a conservation success story taking place—and become fluffier in front of their eyes. Not that long ago, sea otters were hunted to near extinction. Maybe 50 were left in all of California by the early 1800’s. But now, thanks to legislative protection and a change of heart toward these furriest of sea creatures, the otter population has rebounded to steady levels in the Monterey Bay, and with 3,000 total in central California. 

We’ll keep you updated on this new otter family—mom may decide to head out any time. As of this writing though, she’s still grooming her pup and enjoying the comfort of our Great Tide Pool. The cute overload continues.