We’re proud to have such a diverse range of wildlife here are Blue Planet Aquarium – from swift sharks and feisty piranhas to slithery snakes, sneaky spiders and much more.
You’ll already know quite a bit about your favourite creatures, but there’s always more to learn – including some very strange facts to get your head around.
With that in mind, here’s our selection of 10 weird and wonderful facts about some of the creatures in our aquarium.
Just like humans! That’s a long time compared to many other animals, both in the sea and on land.
But, very much UNLIKE humans, these unborn sand tiger pups will eat their own siblings in the womb. Yep, that makes them cannibals. Gross.
It gets even grosser. Once they’re full up with their brothers and sisters, they sometimes eat their mother’s unfertilised eggs as well.
Talk about hungry. And awkward.
Cichlids are among the most loving and caring parents in the ocean, showing huge commitment to protecting their unborn children. Instead of placing their eggs in nests, cichlids carry the eggs around in the mouths – better safe than sorry!
This behaviour is known as “mouthbrooding”, and is also found in several other fish species, including catfish. And, although it is very rare among cichlids, some of them are even paternal mouthbrooders – which means that the dads are the ones who carry the eggs for the mums!
Goliath groupers must be in a rush or very impatient, because they just swallow their prey whole, without chewing, even though they have teeth. Can you imagine doing that? Definitely don’t try it at home, or anywhere else!
But don’t worry: they’re designed to be able to do this (unlike us!). A goliath grouper’s mouth is extremely large, and they use it to generate negative pressure that sucks the prey in quickly. Yep, kind of like a vacuum cleaner.
If you thought pelicans use their bills to catch fish, you’d be right! They don’t store fish in there once caught, though – they just swallow the fish immediately. That doesn’t sound too comfy to us, but it’s how they do it.
The other main use of the bill is to store water – a lot of water. Imagine a can of Coke or Fanta. The capacity of a fully grown pelican’s bill is more than 30 of those!
… Yep, you’ve probably guessed it…
These creatures are omnivorous, meaning they’re not fussy about whether they animals or plants, but they sometimes find that their habitats dry up in terms of food sources.
When this happens, the mud turtle will either leave their current habitat in search of a new one, or will burrow into the mud and hibernate, living in a state of dormancy for several months, saving their energy up until they can emerge and flourish again.
How incredible is that?!
Blacktip sharks are capable of fertilising eggs by themselves – and this process is known as parthenogenesis.
We should point out, however, that it is very uncommon for this to happen. Scientists have only found evidence of this twice during many years of DNA testing.
When hunting for food, a desert viper can take three different approaches:
This, plus the fact that their venom contains 13 different toxins, and the fact that their colour matches their natural environments, means they can ambush and immobilise their prey easily. No wonder they’re such efficient predators!
We are talking pound for pound here, of course, but it’s still impressive that something so small can match the ferocity of one of the world’s most feared predators!
And did you know that their teeth are interlocking? So when they chomp down with those razor-sharp gnashers, that’s what makes their bites so devastating to prey.
Then again, don’t believe the myths: a pack of piranhas can’t strip an animal down to its skeleton in just a few seconds. That’s just silly movie and cartoon stuff!
You probably already knew that electric eels emit strong charges to defend themselves and to stun their prey, but did you know that they also use their electricity to navigate around?
They have to, because their eyesight is pretty dreadful! So they emit low-power charges that act as a kind of built-in radar system.
Get right up close to these fascinating creatures here at our exhibits, and see them in action for yourself.
Have a wander through our 70-metre Underwater Shark Tunnel… Say hi to your thirsty new friends at Pelican Cove… Check out the freshwater fish in the Northern Streams… Brave the creepy-crawlies in Venom! (if you dare)…