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Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
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Fly on the Wall 

April 28, 2008

Ichthyology jars are all boxed up

This week, the final room of the Ichthyology collection is being packed and loaded up to move into the department’s new collection rooms at the new California Academy of Sciences. For transport, the small jars are packed closely together in re-usable orange crates, while larger jars (below, right) are stabilized with packing peanuts that are also re-usable.
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More than 200,000 jars of unicornfishes, lanternbellies, fangtooths, needlefishes, and numerous other species sit on the earthquake-proof shelves – totaling 2 million specimens. The alcohol-filled jars must all be carefully secured because the specimens are a valuable resource to researchers from around the world.

Filed under: Great Migration,Research Departments — Helen @ 3:33 pm

April 24, 2008

New creatures in the Lagoon

The rays in the Lagoon were recently joined by three black tipped reef sharks and Diego, an 80-pound green sea turtle. The female sharks, each about 3 feet long, were quite cooperative through the 2+ hour transfer process. Upon arrival, one shark needed some extra time to adjust to the water in the new tank, but after some coaxing from aquarium curator Bart Shepherd, her energy picked right up. A few photos from the shark move:
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When Diego arrived at the Lagoon two days later (via a mini-forklift ride from the loading dock) the sharks zipped around the Lagoon for a few minutes, not knowing quite what to make of their new tank-mate. They soon settled down, and all are now “co-habitating” comfortably.

Filed under: Aquarium,Great Migration — Helen @ 2:48 pm

April 17, 2008

Coral eye candy

The diversity of life in coral reefs is stunning to say the least. This sampling of species from within the Academy’s coral rearing pods is a taste of what’s to come in the 212,000 gallon Philippine coral reef tank at the new Academy…


The Academy chose to feature a Philippine coral reef because the reef systems in the Philippines are among the most diverse in the world. Despite their global importance, most people on the planet have never seen a living reef. Here’s another creative project bringing coral reefs to people’s attention.

Filed under: Aquarium — Helen @ 11:11 am

April 11, 2008

Rays settle in

The shallow Lagoon which borders the coral reef tank received its first inhabitants this week – ten rays which are now happily cruising the sandy floor. Seven cownose rays traveled first, followed by two blue spot rays and a honeycomb ray in the second trip. The barbs at the end of their tails certainly kept the biologists on their toes!

A ray’s skin is very delicate, so to protect them and facilitate the transport, Academy biologists carefully coaxed each ray into a soft plastic bag. While en-route to Golden Gate Park in a 300-gallon truck-mounted tank, they were monitored by the Academy’s veterinarian and aquatic biologists. Upon arrival, wetsuit-clad biologists introduced them to the Lagoon, and now they’re swimming around like they own the place.

Filed under: Aquarium,Great Migration — Helen @ 5:06 pm

April 8, 2008

Creative recycling

The Ornithology and Mammalogy department was the very first group to move into the Academy’s new home in Golden Gate Park. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, the department was able to purchase a new set of state-of-the-art cabinets for specimen storage.

Rather than tossing the old cabinets in a landfill, collections manager Moe Flannery quickly found new homes for them. She donated most of them to other organizations in need of storage solutions, reducing waste and providing inspiration to others wondering, “what in the world should I do with this (insert your obscure/unwieldy object of choice)?”

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (left) was thrilled to receive the Academy’s donation of 180 cabinets (a lifetime supply!). They have since painted the metallic cabinets white to match their others.

Filed under: Great Migration,Research Departments,Sustainability — Helen @ 10:15 am

April 3, 2008

Moving coral by hand

Piece by piece, Steinhart Aquarium biologists are carefully transporting live coral colonies from “coral rearing pods” at Howard Street over to the 25-foot deep Philippine coral reef tank at the new California Academy of Sciences. Each of the rearing pods holds up to 16 square feet of live coral, which have been growing on-site for more than two years now.

They are kept comfortable during the journey in reusable coolers, and hustled over to the new tank as quickly as possible. Including the corals above which made the trip on Wednesday, just over 30 colonies have been moved so far. Watch the first coral get installed.

Filed under: Aquarium,Great Migration — Helen @ 2:07 pm

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