Aquarium Spotlight: Chicago's Shedd Aquarium
Caribbean Reef is the first aquarium visible upon entry to the Shedd, and due to the club's familiarity with tropical Atlantic fishes, the exhibit had to set a high bar for the rest of the aquarium. Of all the Caribbean reef fish aquariums I have ever beheld, the Shedd's version clearly contained the highest species diversity. Large Tarpon and Spadefishes share the cylindrical aquarium with many smaller reef fish, including Queen Angelfishes, Royal Grammas, and all four Atlantic Butterflyfishes in the genus Chaetodon. The surprise gems of Caribbean Reef would have to be the two Prognathodes Butterflies - the Longsnout and Bank Butterflyfish are both deeper water species and certainly command attention! The beauty of Caribbean Reef is due to the Shedd's great relationship with the Bahamas - a partnership that benefits both parties. Shedd researchers investigate topics of marine importance for the Bahamas, to better educate the government as it enacts environmental policy towards furthering ocean conservation.
Waters of the World
The Waters of the World exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium is one of the most ambitious exhibits for a public aquarium, as it attempts to recreate over a dozen natural biome habitats ranging from Southeast Asian rainforest streams to Australian Rivers and African Great Lakes. The range of animals displayed is incredible, including a Giant Pacific Octopus, Paddlefish(!), and Mantella Frogs. Mantella Frogs are exceedingly rare poison dart frogs, and are bred at the Shedd in conservation efforts. To further illustrate the true breadth of healthy biological diversity maintained in the Shedd's exhibits, we learned in our behind-the-scenes tour that the plants in each of the tanks were fully alive and grew out of the water towards sunlights above! Again, the Shedd's location and ability to expand has played a major role in it's animal care, making the wealthy of diverse life truly impressive.
Admittedly, I spent the least time in Amazon Rising. This doesn't mean it wasn't a fascinating exhibit, or that I couldn't have learned more about the seasonal rains in the Amazon River Basin, but it does speak volumes about the Shedd's depth as an aquarium. The jaw-dropping superstar of the Amazon was undoubtedly the Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) - massive, active, and suspended in the water allowing onlookers to stare it in the eye. Other tanks displayed heavily planted freshwater aquariums.
The Abbott Oceanarium is home to most of the marine mammals at the Shedd Aquarium, including Beluga Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, and California Sea Otters. Fun, and admittedly educational to see trainers interact for training and conditioning purposes with cetaceans! Also penguins were fun as well.
Located in an underneath area of the Shedd, Wild Reef showcases the Shedd's living coral collection, as well as a now-expected high diversity of reef fishes in a range of habitats. High-profile fishes included a Venustus Angelfish, Green Sawfish, and a pair of Pink Skunk Clownfish with a fresh clutch of eggs!
The Jellies exhibit at the Shedd is technically a temporary special exhibit, but has nonetheless been established for over half a decade. See the pictures below for some cool pics of the range of species they were able to care for! Very impressive and diverse, given that most were aquacultured on-site.
Until next time (very soon!),
P.S. We're not done yet!