Sonntag, 9. Mai 2010

A quick guide to Sydney Aquarium - Part 1

A quick guide to Sydney Aquarium
By Steffanie Nies
Since my first visit to the Sydney Aquarium in 2004 I have been amazed by the vast amounts of species on display. To be honest the aquarium looks rather small from the outside, this is however deceiving. As one of the city’s biggest tourist attraction, the Sydney Aquarium is busy at the best of times, so plan your visit out of school holiday seasons to get an even better experience.

The Aquarium has four different sections, dividing Australia’s aquatic environments into northern and southern rivers and northern and southern oceans. Australia is known as a harsh environment with draughts and seasonal floods; it seems amazing that any life can survive in this environment. The same counts for the aquatic environment. In some parts of the country, rivers and lakes almost completely dry up during the dry season, but quickly fill up again once the rain starts. This makes the species found in these waters somewhat special.

One of the most known Australian water animal is home in the southern rivers. Yes it is classified as a mammal, but lays eggs and has a bill like a duck. Of course I am talking of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Platypuses only exist in Australia and are hard to view in the wild. They only come out at night and are rather shy which makes it almost impossible to get a good look at them.
Sydney Aquarium has Platypus on display in one of their tanks, dimmed lights through the daytime makes the animals active during opening hours. They are very fascinating creatures to watch.

The southern rivers, especially the Murray Darling river system - the biggest in Australia - is home to 34 species of fish that are nowhere else on the planet. Sydney Aquarium hosts many of these fish in their tanks, from huge cods (known to grow to 113 kg and 1.8 m) to small rainbowfish and galaxiids.
The northern rivers are subject to extreme changes, in the wet season (November to April) rain floods the rivers; whilst in the dry season (May to October) they can dry out almost completely. This is not the only change the aquatic inhabitants have to deal with. With the receding water in the dry season saltwater from the ocean travels up the stream.
One species of fish which adapted to this environment is the barramundi (Lates calcarifer), whilst adult barramundi will survive in both fresh and salt water, the eggs and young fish will only survive in salt water. Another very interesting fact about Barramundi is that they are all born as males. They reach sexual maturity when they are around three years old; they then start breeding for around two years before all turning into females at age five. These females can be up to 1.2 m long and weigh 50 kg.

Part 2

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