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  Some interesting fishy facts...

Some starfish can split their bodies in half then grow new legs to make 2 whole starfish - ouch!
It's the male seahorse that has the babies - up to 400 at a time!
Seahorses aren't very good swimmers so they hide in the seaweed for protection.
Fish have been around for 500 million years, fish were around long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth
There are about 25,000 different species of fish alive today.
It is estimated that there may still be over 15,000 fish species that have not yet been identified.

What is the world's largest fish and The smallest?
The largest is the whale shark, which grows to more than 50 feet in length and may weigh several tons; second largest is the basking shark, which may measure 35 to 40 feet long. The smallest fish is the tiny goby, an inhabitant of fresh-to-brackish-water lakes in Luzon, Philippines. It seldom is longer than a half inch at adulthood, yet is so abundant it supports a fishery.

Do Fish Sleep??
It all depends on what you mean by sleep. My dictionary says that sleep is a period of rest in which the eyes are closed and there is little or no thought or movement. That is, sleeping means closing your eyes and resting. The first thing we notice is that most fish don't have eyelids (except for sharks). Also, while some deep ocean fish never stop moving a great many fishes live nearly motionless lives and many do so on a regular diurnal/noctural cycle, some active by day others by night.. So we can't generalize and say that all fish sleep like we do. But most fish do rest. Usually they just blank their minds and do what we might call daydreaming. Some float in place, some wedge themselves into a spot in the mud or the coral, some even build themselves a nest. They will still be alert for danger, but they will also be "sleeping."

How is the age of a fish determined?
Mainly by two methods: Growth "rings" on scales, and/or ringlike structures found in otoliths (small bones of the inner ear), are examined and counted. The rings correspond to seasonal changes in the environment and can be compared to the annual rings of tree trunks. A series of fine rings are laid down in scales for each year of life in summer, the rings grow faster and have relatively wide separations; in winter, slower growth is indicated by narrow separations between rings. Each pair of rings indicates one year. Because scale rings are sometimes influenced by other factors, scientists often use otoliths, whose ringlike structures also indicate years of life.

Why do food fish sometimes have a strong odour?
For most species, truly fresh fish is almost odourless. Fish begin to smell "fishy" when deterioration sets in, often caused by incorrect storage practices that bring about the release of oxidized fats and acids through bacterial and enzymatic action.

Fishy defences
The ocean can be one of the most hostile places on earth and creatures living there must develop specialised defences in order to cope with the dangers that most threaten them. Here are some of the important defensive adaptations.
• Sharp teeth and claws to ward off enemies.
• Hard shells provide soft bodies additional protection.
• Colour & camouflage disguise bodies in their habitat making it difficult for predators to see them.
• Schooling provides individual fish added protection by confusing predators with their sheer numbers.
• Poisons - there are many venomous fish, including the weaverfish found in Irish waters. Anemones and jellyfish have stinging cells to stun prey and protect themselves from predators.
• Spines on fish, such as sticklebacks and triggerfish, make it difficult for predators to swallow them. Porcupine fish, a.k.a. pufferfish, have spines, but are also able to inflate their bodies making them look much larger and intimidating to predators.
• Starfish and crabs can voluntarily drop off a limb as a distraction for the predator, it will later regenerate that limb.
• Cuttlefish and squid also distract by squirting ink at predators.
• Electric eels can give electric shocks up to 500v
• In the deep sea, where there is no light, some species are able to light up parts of their bodies as a form of defence.

Starfish
Sea stars (also known as starfish) are spiny, hard-skinned animals that live on the rocky sea floor. Starfish are NOT fish; they are echinoderms. Sea stars move very slowly along the sea bed, using hundreds of tiny tube feet. There are over 2,000 different species of sea stars worldwide.

Starfish are carnivores (meat-eaters). They eat clams, oysters, coral, fish, and other animals. They push their stomach out through their mouth (located on the underside of the sea star) and digest the prey.

Most sea stars have five arms. Starfish do not have a brain; they have a simple ring of nerve cells that moves information around the body. Eyespots (primitive light sensors) are at the tip of each arm. If a sea star's arm is cut off, it will regenerate (regrow).

Sharks
Sharks are the most feared and perhaps the most misunderstood creatures in the ocean. These magnificent creatures have been on the planet for over 500 million years. They have skeletons made of cartilage instead of bone, the same material we have in our noses and ears. Most sharks swim constantly, forcing water through their mouth and gill rakers, which pull out the oxygen – this is how they breathe. Shark skin feels like sandpaper. Eggs are laid in the form of a “mermaid’s purse”, transparent cases that allow you to see the baby shark inside. These take an average of 10 months to hatch.

Mermaid’s Purse

Sharks have a very good sense of smell. They also have several rows of teeth designed for ripping and tearing, their teeth replace themselves every 10 days or so. Sharks have unfairly earned a reputation as killing machines, eating everything in sight, including humans. Only a few of the 250 species of shark have ever been know to attack man, it is usually a case of mistaken identity – a person on a surfboard looks very much like a seal from a shark’s point of view.

For every 10 people attacked by sharks, over 10,000 sharks are killed by people. They are usually hunted for their fins, as shark fin soup is a delicacy in the Orient.

There are over 30 types of shark found in Irish Waters:
Porbeagle, Basking, Thresher, Shortfin Mako, Blue, Tope, Six-gilled, Bull Huss, Dogfish, Smooth Hound and Spurdog. In deeper water you might find: Longnose, Velvet Dogfish, Black Dogfish, Velvet Belly, Great Lanternshark, Iceland Catshark, Mouse Catshark and Greenland Shark.

Seahorse
Seahorses are a type of small fish that have armored plates all over their body (they don't have scales). There are about 50 different species of seahorses around the world. They live in seaweed beds in warm water and are very slow swimmers. Seahorses can change their colour to camouflage themselves in order to hide from enemies.

Seahorses have the head of a horse, the tail of a monkey and it’s the male who has the babies!!
Reproduction: The female seahorse produces eggs, but they are held inside the male's body until they hatch; he is pregnant for about 40 to 50 days. The seahorse is the only animal in which the father is pregnant.

Clownfish / “Nemo”

Clown fish (also called the Clown Anemonefish) are small fish that live among anemone (fish-eating animals that look like undersea flowers and have hundreds of poisonous tentacles). Most of you will know the Clownfish from the Disney Pixar film “Finding Nemo”.

This brightly-colored fish is orange with three white vertical stripes; the rounded fins have black margins. The Clown fish grows to be about 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 cm) long.

The Clown fish lives on the sea floor amid anemone tentacles. It inhabits the warm waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The Clownfish eat the anemone's leftover food. It also eats dead anemone tentacles and plankton.

Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins are small, toothed whales that have a long, beaklike snout, a sickle-shaped dorsal fin, and sharp teeth. Dolphins breathe air through a single blowhole. They grow to be at most 12 feet (3.3 m) long. Dolphins live in small groups of up to 12 ; these groups are called pods. Bottlenose dolphins have a life span of about 35 - 40 years. Dolphins swim by moving their tail up and down. Fish swim by moving their tail left and right.

Bottlenose dolphins are hunters who find their prey at the surface of the water, eating mostly fish and squid
Bottlenose Dolphins are found in both temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world.

Some sharks will prey upon dolphins. Dolphins are also often trapped in fishing nets.

Dolphins are exceptionally playful creatures, often seen leaping out of the water purely for fun. They are very friendly and will interact with humans.

Fungi the Dingle Dolphin is a bottlenose Dolphin, Fungi can be seen in the harbour of Dingle Bay. He has made Dingle his home since 1984.

Sandtiger Shark / Carchariau taurus
These sharks are also know as Grey Nurse Sharks.

Sandtigers can grow up to a length of 10ft and weigh over 300lbs! They eat fish, mainly squid. There name comes from their tendency towards shoreline habitats and they are often seen trolling on the ocean floor near the shore line. They are found in warm or temperate waters of the world such as South Africa. Sandtigers are the only shark known to come to the surface to gulp air. While menacing in appearance this shark is generally considered to be harmless. The Sandtiger Shark usually swims with its mouth open but even when its mouth is closed the razor sharp teeth are still clear to see.

Loggerhead Turtle / Caretta caretta
Molly our Loggerhead Turtle was found in August 2004 washed up on a beach in Castlegregory, Co Kerry. The staff at the aquarium have cared for her since then and she is now back to full health apart from her damaged flippers which we think occurred during a shark attack in the wild. Loggerhead Turtles are an endangered species. They can weigh up to 350lb and measure up to 3 feet in length. Loggerheads can live up to about 60 years in captivity and they can live longer in the wild. From our research we believe that Molly is in her 20s or 30s. We have rehabilitated and released 6 loggerhead turtles in the past 10 years: Spike, Omey, Blink, Peig, Saor and Dylan.

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Dingle Oceanworld (Mara Beo)

The Wood (An Choill), Dingle (An Daingean), Co. Kerry (Co. Chiarraí), Ireland (Éire)
Tel: +353 (0)66 91 52 111 • Fax: +353 (0)66 91 52 155 • Email: marabeo@iol.ie
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