15 April 2009
Tiny Triplefins at Southern Encounter
Over twenty stunning little triplefin fish are recent arrivals at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House.
Four species of triplefin are recent additions to Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House. They are: Blue-eyed; Oblique-swimming; Spectacled and Longfinned triplefin and twenty four specimens are on display.
These interesting, colourful, little fish were collected by divers on scuba using a ‘slurp gun' which is a large syringe which can be used to suck up small fishes. This method allows animals which would normally be impossible to catch with a hand net to be caught relatively easily.
Southern Encounter's Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw, says there is a knack to using the ‘slurp gun'. “You have to get the nozzle as close to the fish as possible and the fish needs to be facing it otherwise the fish can out-swim the suction.”
The triplefins are a diverse group of fish and are common around New Zealand with one third of the world's triplefin species being found along the New Zealand coast. There are at least thirty triplefin species present in New Zealand waters, with all but two being endemic. Triplefins are found around reefs and sub-tidal habitats often in shallow water and rock pools.
“These fish are an example of how amazing our local fish life is, if you just take the time to look. Visitors have the opportunity to view these stunning creatures in fantastic displays at Southern Encounter!” adds Dave.
18 February 2009
Rare ‘Flashing' Fish on display at Southern Encounter
A very special fish called the Silver spot is on display at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House in Cathedral Square . This fish is a unique addition to the facility because only two other specimens have ever been seen in New Zealand waters!
Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw, is excited to have such an unusual creature on show: "The Silver spot is a close relative of the hiwihiwi or kelpfish found around the North Island, but has a few remarkable differences, one of which being the silver spot on its gill cover which 'flashes' as it breathes! It really is fascinating to see this spot ‘blinking' on the side of the fish."
This species is normally found along the South Australian coast but the specimen at Southern Encounter was caught in a crevice off the southern tip of d'Urville Island , just outside the Marlborough Sounds. The other two Silver spots found in New Zealand waters were caught around the lower North Island .
The Silver spot grows to a length of 350mm but our specimen is 180mm . They are carnivorous and feed on a range of small invertebrates and fishes. They are found in coastal reef areas, preferring habitats which are heavily covered in seaweed.
“This intriguing little fish has adapted nicely and is feeding well. We encourage people to come and meet a fish they will most likely never see again in our waters” adds Dave.
2 January 2008
Tiny critters at Southern Encounter
Fifteen baby crayfish are on display at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House
A collection of fifteen tiny spiny rock lobsters (crayfish) are the latest addition at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House in Cathedral Square. Staff members of the inner city attraction set up a temporary display of the fascinating animals for the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who are doing research on growing out juvenile rock lobsters. NIWA donated the animals to Southern Encounter for display and education purposes. The baby crayfish were sourced from around the Wellington coast.
|“The addition of these 2-3 year old crayfish is a rare opportunity for non-divers to see juvenile spiny rock lobsters, as they are well under the minimum legal capture size. These babies are only about 4cm long and are probably as cute as they're ever going to get” says Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
Spiny rock lobsters feed on a variety of animals such as shellfish, crabs, sea urchins, and starfish. They are also opportunistic and will feed on carrion. New Zealand has four species of spiny rock lobster but this species is by far the most common. The largest crayfish are estimated to be at least thirty years old!
30 October 2007
Snotties at Southern Encounter
Two large Hagfish are on display at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House.
|The jawless Hagfish ( Eptatretus cirrhatus ) is one of the most primitive living fish, with an ancestry dating back over 350 million years! Two of these fascinating specimens are currently on show at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House in Cathedral Square . The animals were sourced from Akaroa where they were caught in pots by a local fisherman.
Hagfish are scavengers and feed by rasping away at dead and decaying animals, using their very primitive mouthparts (one of the differences that sets them apart from more recent jawed fishes). When Hagfish feed on a large animal, they will sometimes burrow into the body and eat the animal from the inside out!
"This animal is truly amazing in its repulsiveness, not only does it feed extensively on dead and rotten flesh but it also has a defensive mechanism which involves jetting out huge volumes of slime when it feels threatened - enough to fill up a twenty litre bucket, hence their slang name snotties!" says Dave Bradshaw, Southern Encounter's Operations Manager.
Southern Encounter's Hagfish are large specimens measuring 700mm and are currently housed in the aquarium's second largest (21000 litre) marine display. New Zealand 's Hagfish is one of the largest in the world and grows up to one metre in length. Consequently scientists travel from all over the planet to study the evolutionarily fascinating animal.
“Southern Encounter is one of the few attractions to regularly display these interesting and important creatures. They are a fantastic addition to the facility particularly for our formal education programmes” adds Bradshaw.
24 September 2007
Happy Birthday Southern Encounter!
Christchurch 's Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House
celebrated 10 years of operation on Saturday!
Staff members at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House are celebrating 10 years of operation of the inner city attraction. Constructed at a cost of $5.5M, and opening on 22 September 1997 , Southern Encounter was designed to take visitors on a journey of discovery to explore what lurks beneath the South Island 's waterways. In 2000 Orana Wildlife Trust, a charitable trust that operates Orana Wildlife Park , took ownership of the central city facility.
Operations Manager Dave Bradshaw, who has worked at the attraction since it opened, says “many changes have taken place over the years including three changes of ownership (from private to not-for-profit), four name changes and a new animal display focus! We have hosted over 1,000,000 visitors and I am proud of the experience we offer visitors.”
The facility was initially named Southern Encounter , Aquarium of Discovery , then changed to Aquarium of Discovery, before changing to Southern Encounter Aquarium.
On opening, the display focus was a heavy bias towards freshwater sportsfish. Over the years this has altered to showcase the splendour of the South Island 's marine species and native freshwater species as well as native land dwelling animals.
Two of the most significant changes have been Orana Wildlife Trust's purchase of the attraction, making it a not-for-profit organisation, and the addition of a nocturnal Kiwi House in 2002 which is the only one of its kind to be located in the CBD of a major New Zealand city. The Kiwi House has resulted in a new marketing focus and a steady increase in visitation.
"Orana Wildlife Trust's purchase of the aquarium was the turning point for Southern Encounter,
with additional staff support, expertise and access to native terrestrial species such as the kiwi making a huge difference. Since Orana has taken over the additional expertise and reduction in staffing overheads and has turned the facility around. The focus has become more on animal welfare and education than generating a profit, and ironically the effect is that the increase in quality of the facility has resulted in a successful enterprise" says Bradshaw.
Aside from the Kiwi House a range of other key developments have occurred, including the introduction of a Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom education programme (endorsed by the Ministry of Education) as well as an interactive education laboratory, where students can carry out in-depth studies of live organisms. Furthermore, new exhibits for tuatara, native geckos and katipo spiders have been added - indicating a shift to showcase aquatic and terrestrial native creatures. Visitors can now see some of New Zealand 's most unique native creatures, right in the centre of Christchurch !
Trust Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, is extremely proud of the efforts of her dedicated team: “ our staff have worked immensely hard to assure the future of Southern Encounter. At one point the facility had looked likely to close and this would have been a terrible blow to the city, meaning the loss of a key tourist attraction. Today, it is an important contributor to the city's drive to breathe new life into the central city. We have a range of exciting new developments planned for the future to ensure we continue to make the attraction the best it can be.”
As a way to celebrate turning 10, Southern Encounter is offering a special half price deal for children during the holidays. Up to four children (5-14 years) can enter at half price with each paying adult.
Southern Encounter Highlights
11 June 2007
Quirky critters in Cathedral Square
Some native green geckos and interesting aquatic creatures have recently arrived at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House.
Four stunning male Northland green geckos, transferred from a permitted private holder and Orana Wildlife Park , are some of the latest arrivals at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House. They share an exhibit with two male forest geckos.
A gecko habitat containing two exhibits, now featuring three threatened species (green, forest and common geckos), was completed last year. Recent development projects have been for some of New Zealand 's unique land dwelling fauna. The gecko display compliments habitats for kiwi, tuatara and the katipo spider.
“The green geckos are a colourful addition to the reptile habitat. New Zealand 's geckos are under threat so it's important that we display them, as most people will not encounter these native treasures anywhere else. The shared Gecko display demonstrates some physical and behavioural differences between the species. They are both fantastically camouflaged as the green geckos blend into the leaves whilst the forest geckos virtually disappear against the tree branches” says Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
New Zealand 's reptiles are absolutely protected and only those people/organisations with the necessary permits are able to hold them.
Southern Encounter showcases a range of interesting aquatic species and people are not likely to encounter some of the recent additions in the wild. A cave dwelling 25cm long thornfish along with a very large 30cm butterfly perch now reside in the Flat Fish display. Some tiny (6 cm long) spectacled and yellow/black triplefins along with the unusual orange clinid all share a tank with carpet shark eggs. Juvenile leatherjackets and the bizarre Hutton's masking crab have been added to the Rocky Shore display.
Some recent freshwater additions include tench, rudd and perch, supplied by the Department of Conservation.These fish are considered pests as they out compete and/or eat native fish and compromise water quality. Southern Encounter holds the fish to raise public awareness about them.
“We regularly add new species for display and sourcing some of the more unusual fishes is important so that we can showcase the diversity of marine life that exists around New Zealand ” adds Mr Bradshaw.
5 January 2007
Fish' latest addition to Southern Encounter
maori chief have been sourced for display at Christchurch's
Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House.
maori chief have been added to Southern Encounter's main
marine display. These hardy fish get their name from their
tattooed appearance on their head. Maori chief are fascinating
creatures and are related to a group of Antarctic fish
which have an anti-freeze component to their blood. The
maori chief is often studied because of its similarities
with these Antarctic fish.
maori chief reminds you of a bulldog with a massive
head and a sharply tapering body. These fascinating
animals are bottom dwelling fishes and as most of our
marine fish cruise mid-water,
is nice to have something that prefers the floor of the display.
Many people are familiar with the name maori chief because
it is often (incorrectly) applied to the commonly caught
sea perch. However, the true maori chief are rarely encountered
so it is great to be able to show visitors what they look
like” says Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
Maori chief are found in reefy areas, to depths of 100 metres,
from Cook Strait to the sub-Antarctic islands, where they are
most common. They are quite secretive and eat small fishes, crustaceans
and have also been known to eat seaweed. These fish will be a
permanent display feature at Southern Encounter.
3 November 2006
Poisonous Spider – latest addition to Southern Encounter
A fantastic display for the native Katipo Spider has been completed at Christchurch 's Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House.
Three poisonous native Spiders, two females and one male, have made their way into the central city to a new home at Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House. The Katipo, meaning night-stinger, is New Zealand 's only poisonous Spider.
“Katipo are fascinating creatures. There is a lot of paranoia about them because they are New Zealand 's only potentially dangerous native Spider. It is great to be able to show these normally shy animals to the public. The new Katipo display significantly adds to the variety of native aquatic and land dwelling animals on show at Southern Encounter. We always seek to add new and exciting attractions to build on the visitor experience and before now had no native spider represented” comments Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
Katipos are small spiders; the female has a pea-sized abdomen and the male is only one third the size of females. Females are characterised by their black colour with obvious red stripe and a prominent red hourglass shape stripe on the underside of the abdomen. Males are a brown colour with a faint red mark.
“Whilst Katipos are poisonous, they are not an aggressive species by nature and people usually come across them by mistake. In fact, for the habitat in which they live, they are encountered surprisingly infrequently. If people do get bitten, anti–venom is held at hospitals” adds Bradshaw.
Southern Encounter's Katipo display is likely to be temporary but the space will be permanently occupied either by native Spiders and/or Insects. Katipos are an endangered species which are being displaced in some areas by the more aggressive introduced Black Cobweb or False Katipo, thought to have originated from South Africa . Katipos are related to the Australian Redback and the Black Widow of North America. They are found throughout New Zealand in beach areas, under logs, around sand dunes and in Pingao grass.
“Katipo spiders are a special part of New Zealand 's unique native fauna and Southern Encounter now provides the perfect safe environment for the public to view these interesting arachnids” says Bradshaw.
17 March 2006
Grants enable essential upgrades at Southern Encounter
Thanks to grants from two community funding organisations, Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House (in Cathedral Square) has been able to complete some essential upgrades. The improvements are not only beneficial for the aquatic inhabitants but they also enhance the visitor experience.
One of the key upgrades has been to the theatre's projection equipment and a grant from the Scottwood Trust made this improvement possible. The theatre is an important component of the visitor experience. A range of short wildlife films are permanently played and feature some of Southern Encounter's endangered species, including NZ Kiwi. The theatre is a key resource utilised by schools who visit to enjoy environmental education programmes (endorsed by the Ministry of Education).
“We are delighted with the upgrade. The new equipment is working magnificently. After being used to the old setup, we cannot believe the great colours and clarity in the picture. The old equipment was in dire need of replacement owing to poor picture quality resulting in visitor complaints. We now regularly get compliments from visitors about the high quality of films shown in the theatre . The new system also has the added bonus in that it can be utilised as a data projector for presentations for visiting school groups” says Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
A grant from the Eureka Trust has enabled improvements to be made to the air conditioning in the Aquarium and water chilling in the quarantine room, both of which benefit the aquatic creatures and also visitors to the facility. The air conditioning equipment was in need of repair as it was not effectively cooling the Aquarium, thereby elevating temperatures which created stress on the animals. The air conditioning was fixed in time for the hot part of summer and, now that it is fully functional, ensures that display tanks with no chilling systems do not overheat. The improvements also add to the comfort levels of visitors.
The water chilling upgrade in quarantine helps to minimise the impact and stress on incoming animals to the attraction. Wherever possible, all creatures spend time in quarantine to allow them to adjust to the new environment. The water chilling upgrade has meant that two systems are now in place in quarantine, one is set at ambient sea temperature and the other is set at ambient aquarium temperature meaning there is no thermal shock involved when introducing animals from the wild to the display tanks at Southern Encounter.
“Southern Encounter operates as a charitable trust and so relies upon outside funding organisations such as the Scottwood Trust and Eureka Trust to secure the funds required to enable all capital upgrades to proceed. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank both organisations for their generous grants. Without their support we simply could not have implemented these important upgrades ” says Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson.
For more information, please contact:
Ph: 359 7109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathan Hawke, Public Relations Manager, Orana Wildlife Trust
16 March 2006
Short-tail stingray lurking in inner city
A female Short-tail Stingray ( Dasyatis brevicaudatis ) has recently been transferred from Mapua Aquarium (Nelson) to Christchurch 's Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House ( Cathedral Square ). She was caught by Mapua Aquarium in Tasman Bay for Southern Encounter.
The new inhabitant weights around 5kg and has a 50cm wingspan and her presence has enhanced the variety of marine life on show at Southern Encounter. Staff members expect her to grow to have a wingspan of around 1.5 metres, however she will most likely be released to the open sea before reaching this size. Whenever possible, fish are released from the Aquarium to the wild.
“The Stingray has adapted well to the main marine display and is feeding on pilchards, sardines and mackerel. We are delighted to have a representative of the rays in the same display with the sharks, as it shows to the public the variation in shape and size within the cartilaginous fish. Kids, especially, love seeing the underside of the ray as she glides over them” comments Operations Manager, Dave Bradshaw.
Stingrays are fascinating creatures. Whilst they can inflict a very nasty wound with their tail spines (which can be up to 30cm long) they are placid by nature and become tame quickly, learning to feed from the diver within weeks. The young are born alive, and measure about 50cm long and 15cm across. The body disc averages 1metre in width but can measure up to 2metres.
“ We are delighted to be able to showcase these beautiful creatures. Visitors are able to see how gentle and gracious these rays can be at Southern Encounter which will hopefully mean that they will treat Stingrays with respect if they ever encounter them in the wild” says Bradshaw.
Short-tail Stingrays are commonly encountered further north in New Zealand , in close to the coast, and occasionally locally (around Christchurch ) in the warmer months. This species of Stingray is found not only around New Zealand but also Australia and South Africa . There are two other species of Stingray found in New Zealand waters - the Long-tail and the Pelagic, although the Short-tail Stingray is the most commonly encountered.
For more information, please contact:
Nathan Hawke, Public Relations Manager, Orana Wildlife Trust
Ph: 359 7109 or email@example.com