Monday, August 15, 2016

New Tropical Traveler at The Exploration Center and Aquarium

By Adam Kovarsky, Aquarium Manager and Educator

A new tropical traveler has found its way to our aquarium! Brycen Vallancourt, Save The Bay camper and Exploration Center visitor, caught a small webbed burrfish while exploring the waters near Ocean Drive in Newport, Rhode Island on Wednesday, August 3rd. Brycen is no stranger to tropical strays. In fact, last summer he caught a short bigeye at Third Beach which has been living in the aquarium ever since. Our new fish is about the size of a quarter, and has been a great addition to our exhibits at the Exploration Center. Tropical strays such as these usually travel up to the Narragansett Bay through the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream current, and sometimes get stuck in the Bay as the water temperature cools down during the winter months. We try to catch as many of these tropical fish as we can so they are not left struggling to survive the harsh conditions of the winter Bay.

Sightings of tropical fish such as these are just another sign that the waters in the area are warming up due to climate change. With increased levels of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, a “heat trapping blanket” surrounds the Earth and keeps sunlight and warmer air at the surface of the planet. This, in turn, creates warmer waters and leads to more tropical stray sightings further north. Our new "Bay of the Future" exhibit has become home to many of the strays we have here in the aquarium.

Come check out the Webbed Burrfish at our Exploration Center and Aquarium. He shares a tank with a band-tailed pufferfish, another tropical stray we have not seen for about 5 years!

Brycen participated in Save The Bay's after school program with Pell Elementary School this past year and will be attending BayCamp in Newport at Ft. Adams.