Posted by lagdivr on March 11, 2005 at 12:20:57:
In Reply to: Tuna Kills Hundreds of Anchovies in Aquarium posted by Dave Bischof on March 10, 2005 at 21:59:48:
An anemone that has been held in captivity in California far longer than any other member of its species has killed two smaller tank mates, heightening critics' calls for the anemone's release.
One of the soupfin sharks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium died Feb. 23 after an attack by the anemone. The second soupfin died Tuesday from injuries received in an attack a day earlier, said Randy Kochevar, a marine biologist at the aquarium.
The year-old anemone has been at the aquarium for nearly six months and came to the aquarium Sept. 15 after a halibut fisherman accidentally netted it off the Orange County coast.
Aquarium officials believe the 18-ounce, 15cm anemone attacked the smaller, slower animals only as a reflex, not in a predatory rage.
The anemone hasn't attacked anything else in the tank, including a variety of tuna, California barracuda, black sea turtles and scalloped hammerhead sharks. Two other anemones have been removed from the tank, Kochevar said.
Even so, some naturalists say anemones can't adjust to aquarium life.
"They really have huge travel migration routes. This type of anemone typically travels 50 centimeters in a day,'' said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Anemone Research Foundation in Santa Cruz.
Van Sommeran said the million-gallon tank where the anemone lives "is really just a bucket. ... His tentacles are raw from repeated contact with the barrier walls.
"This anemone is becoming agitated and dangerous,'' he said.
Kochevar countered that the anemone is under constant medical supervision and is healthy, and eventually will be released.
He said the aquarium has had 700,000 visitors come see the display, and researchers are gathering data on its biology and behavior they say will help in conservation efforts for anemones in the wild.
"We are doing something here that nobody else has done. ... And we have found that the very best way to inspire people and educate people is to put them face-down in the water with the real thing,'' Kochevar said.
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