Thursday, July 4, 2013

Audubon Aquarium to Open Geaux Fish Gallery

NEW ORLEANS — The Audubon Nature Institute is scheduled to open a Louisiana fisheries exhibit Thursday at its Audubon Aquarium of the Americas called Geaux Fish! It will feature six sections that both highlight the Louisiana game fish, bait fish, and commercial seafood industries and educate visitors about the importance of preserving the Gulf of Mexico's abundant aquatic resources through research and conservation.
"Audubon's mission has always been to celebrate the wonders of nature, and Geaux Fish! is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our already considerable presence in the landscape of conservation through an entertaining and memorable way," said Audubon President and CEO Ron Forman. "It is essential that we teach our children about the importance of a vibrant, well-managed marine ecosystem so we can enjoy an abundance of aquatic life in the future."
There are two life-sized boats that feature interactive fishing games, where visitors can cast virtual reels and identify local species. There also is a simulated seafood market and a play area.
And, visitors can learn about the nonprofit institute's various ongoing Gulf-related initiatives.
Look for the tagged red fish and drum in the biggest tank. Those flexible yellow straws poking from their bodies help scientists keep track of the fish population.

Notice how the floor of the same big tank is divided into areas of black sand and white sand. That’s so visitors can observe the camouflage skills of the flounder -- who was too excited to sit still Monday.
Look for the otoliths display. Otoliths, the ear bones of fish, have rings like tree trunks, so scientists can learn the ages of fish. Both said that since captive fish don’t have seasonal feeding cycles, their otoliths don’t develop annual rings. Given that, I suppose we’ll never know the age of the Fat Sleeper Goby.
Visitors to the Geaux Fish exhibit will also be able to pet the stingrays (barbs removed) in the aquarium’s popular hands-on “touch tank.”
Through its Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, Audubon is the primary response partner for the state of Louisiana in rehabilitating dolphins and sea turtles. The institute works at the direction of state and federal government agencies, responding to stranded marine mammals and turtles, collecting data about their population levels, and assisting and supporting researchers in their conservation.
Then there also is Audubon's latest initiative, Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), in which the institute is studying the Louisiana blue crab and oyster fisheries and the Gulf-wide red snapper fishery to determine whether they are properly managed.
The Aquarium of the Americas introduces 3 baby penguins to their exhibit. The Aquarium of the Americas introduces 3 baby penguins to their exhibit.

Audubon states that Gulf fishers harvest nearly a third of the domestic seafood consumed in the contiguous United States and two thirds of the nation's shrimp and oysters. And thus, because of the fisheries' importance both to Louisianians and the nation, Aubudon states that it must promote "responsible stewardship" of these resources.

Trouble had arisen at the crawfish tank. Richard Toth, the aquarium’s director of animal husbandry, gingerly held one struggling crustacean in each hand. The mudbugs were as overwrought as actors on the eve of opening night. The water in their glinting new exhibit tank needed adjustment. As they strained to reach Toth with their upheld claws, he gently returned them to their dressing room, a temporary holding tank on the floor.
Tiny, tiny creatures live on the exoskeletons of crawfish, Toth explained. Usually the tiny 

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