Dr. Tierney Thys tells us all about the colorful lionfish in this week’s Creature Feature!
When lionfish are young, they have tentacles above their eyes and under their mouths called wigglers. The lionfish uses these wigglers to attract their prey: it wiggles them to get its prey’s attention, and when its prey swims too close, the lionfish will catch it with a super fast strike!
As they grow and become better hunters, the wigglers slowly disappear.
Lionfish also have an amazing survival skill: they are able to slow down their metabolism when prey is less plentiful. They can slow it so much that they can live without food for more than three months!
Dr. Brady Barr finds a trail of leafcutter ants in this week’s Creature Feature.
Because they carry cut leaves above their heads like little umbrellas, leafcutter ants are also known as parasol ants. And did you know that a leafcutter ant can carry almost ten times its own weight? That would be like the average eight-year-old carrying a cow!
Leafcutter ants carry the leaf pieces they cut back to their underground nests. The leaves are chewed into a pulp, and afterwards a special fungus grows on them. The leafcutter ants use this fungus, not the leaves, as a crop for their colony to eat!
You can also think of these ants as little farmers with five different jobs: foragers, gardeners, choppers, tiny ants that distribute leaf bits to the fungus, and even smaller ants called minimae that tend to the fungus.
Tierney Thys talks to us about the ‘bat ray’ from her indoor touch pool.
Rays are more closely related to sharks than to fish. Like sharks they don’t have any bones, and their skeleton is made of cartilage. Bat rays prefer the warm shallow waters of the North American Pacific Coast, but are different species of rays are found through out the world’s warm ocean shores. The bat is a small ray coming in at about a six foot fin span and about 200 pounds. The largest of the rays is the manta. These guys have can have a 24 foot fin span and weigh 3000 pounds!! Rays will live about 25 years in the wild and over 50 in captivity.
Have you played the Touch Pool mini-game in Tierney’s Aquarium?