Aquarium Photo Gallery
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Aquarium Photo Gallery
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All photos by Lynn Wilbur 2008-2013
Here is the answer to the identity of the current Amazing Metazoan...
Many award winning photos are taken of pods of dolphins, breaching whales, and giant manta rays, but have you ever pondered on the aesthetics of the creatures that dwell on the ocean floor? Well, there is a growing number of divers that recognize the beauty of mud dwelling creatures, and they are bringing the macro-marine into focus. Welcome to the weird world of muck diving! This Amazing Metazoan is the tube dwelling anemone, Pachycerianthus fimbriatus, a member of the phylum Cnidaria and relative of the jellyfish. The beauty of this animal lies in the exposed mouth and tentacles (the ugly lies in the hidden body column, which is buried in the muck). Unlike the rocky intertidal anemones that we are familiar with, the tube dwelling anemone has tentacles that protrude from its mouth that may serve in the transport of food. This Amazing Metazoan was photographed at a depth of -58 feet off the Starragavan boat launch ramp but it can be found in colonies on muddy bottoms throughout Sitka Sound, and has been recorded at depths of -100 feet.
This Amazing Metazoan is the quillback rockfish, Sebastes maliger. Rockfish get their common name from their affinity for hanging out around rocky outcroppings, rock walls, and pinnacles, and are found from Alaska to California, and even Peru. Most species of rockfish are very slow growing and long lived, and some species don't reproduce until they are a quarter of a century old-that's 25 years, a long time for a fish! Rockfish spend most of their time in a relatively low energy, motionless, and (thanks to their swim bladder) suspended state just off the bottom of the ocean ("demersal" is the term used to describe this behavior), but they are extremely fast when the need arises as any diver will tell you. Our resident rockfish at the Molly Ahlgren Aquarium will feed about every other week in the summer, and about once every two months in the winter; how's that for energy savings!
Meet the vermillion star Mediaster aequalis, which gets its common name from its brilliant color. Vermillion stars are commonly found in the shallow subtidal waters around Sitka Sound, but can also live as deep as 1650 feet. This sea star is one of the more rigid of the asteroids, owing to its extensive network of tabulate plates (the calcareous endoskeleton) and spines. This species is known to feed on sea pens and sponges, but also helps keep our touch tanks clean by feeding on bits of debris.