SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- While the US Census results will not be announced until 2010, Aquarium of the Bay's annual inhabitants' census reports 66,916 animals, an increase of nearly 140% over last year's. This year, the animal collection included more than 61,000 invertebrates, nearly 3,000 teleosts (bony fish), more than 150 elasmobranchs (cartilaginous fish including sharks, rays and skates) and well over 2,000 land-dwelling animals including insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and arachnids.
The rapid growth from previous years is attributed to new animals introduced in the three exhibits that the Aquarium debuted earlier this year and the Aquarium's successful in-house animal propagation efforts. Not included in this report was the birth of more than 1,000 Red Octopuses in the Aquarium's Behind the Scenes areas, which took place just this week.
"Aquarium of the Bay's annual census is an important tool that helps us manage the collection, evaluate successes and anticipate needs for the New Year," said Christina J. Slager, director of Husbandry. "From every sea star to each Sevengill shark, our Husbandry team accounts for each of our animals, and examines the overall health of the entire collection."
A major elasmobranch success for 2009 was the birth of seven Pacific Angel Sharks, Squatina californica. Aquarium of the Bay is the only nature center to successfully breed Pacific Angel Sharks and the only aquarium to consistently exhibit, study and care for the species.
For more than 10 years, Aquarium of the Bay has propagated moon jellies in-house. This process enables the Aquarium to only exhibit internally produced animals of this species and also provides opportunities to donate the animals to other marine nature centers, minimizing the need to collect them from the wild. With this spring's introduction of Brown Sea Nettles in the new jellies exhibit, the Aquarium's Husbandry department hopes to begin propagating this species in-house, in 2010. Other successful births in 2009 included Big Skates, Surf Perch and Bay Pipefish.
In addition to counting the total number of animals, Leopard Sharks receive physicals during the annual census. Each of the Aquarium's 32 leopard sharks is removed from the main exhibit and placed in behind the scenes holding tanks where the veterinarian assesses the animals' overall health, weighs and measures them, and takes a blood sample. The blood sample collection is part of a long-term project analyzing blood values for the sharks, as little is currently known about what constitutes a "normal" blood profile.
About Aquarium of the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit marine nature center owned and operated by The Bay Institute. The Aquarium is dedicated to creating experiences that inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as a Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Additional information is available at www.aquariumofthebay.org.
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SOURCE Aquarium of the Bay