... it’s stock taking time at Macduff Marine Aquarium! Every year staff at the aquarium have to take stock of all the animals held in the exhibits and account for each one.
Although records are kept of all comings and goings throughout the year, the zoo licence regulations require that a full count is undertaken – no easy matter when the animals in question just don’t stop moving!
Displays team Chris Rowe and Lauren Smith have managed to count the individuals of all 84 marine species across 18 displays and 7 quarantine tanks, from tiny brittle stars to the big cod. Several counts had to be done for each species to make sure the count was accurate.
Lauren, the aquarium’s aquarist, said: “I had to stare at one spot and count the number of fish that passed to avoid getting confused and counting the animals over and over.
“Some animals, like the sea anemones, were much easier, and some of our invertebrates were so numerous I just had to guess. The kelp reef tank presented the biggest challenge as there are so many hiding places for the fish – there was nothing else for it but to dive in with my clip board!
“Both divers had to count each species, then compare our figures to check they matched. The shoaling seabass were the worst to count – but there are 20 of them!”
The most numerous fish in the aquarium are the lesser spotted dogfish – including lots of juveniles that hatch from mermaids’ purses as part of the breeding programme for these little sharks.
There are also 16 cod, 12 lumpsuckers, 22 shannies and 39 dahlia anemones – over 470 animals in all. But there is only one halibut – Jemima – and one conger eel called Connie.
Not quite sure how many of tbutterfish will hatch from the latest batch of eggs laid recently, but the butterfish count will definitely be more next year!