Monterey Bay Aquarium – “The Open Sea” Feeding Show – 2013.07.20

Monterey Bay Aquarium – “The Open Sea” Feeding Show – 2013.07.20

…the exhibits in the aquarium already this morning, you know what I’m about to say. If you haven’t, you will get to see them as you go around the aquarium, But this looks very different than most of our other exhibits because there are some things missing from “The Open Sea” exhibit, and those things are the rocks, and the sand, and the seaweed. And the reason for that is, most of our other exhibits are trying to show you the part of the ocean that you and I are the most familiar with, and that is the coastline. And that’s where the rocks, and the sand, and the seaweed are. In this exhibit, we’re trying to show you what the rest of the ocean looks like, in fact, what most of the world’s ocean looks like. Now, for most of us, this view on my screen over here, is the best view that we ever get of it as we’re flying over it on the way to somewhere else That gives you a feeling for just how big the ocean is, with how long it takes to get to wherever else you’re flying to. But in our exhibit, we’re trying to show you the “fish eye” view of the exhibit… …like this: just water. And for most of the ocean, that’s all there is. So think of it this way: if you were to get into a boat, and travel out a hundred miles or more offshore where you couldn’t see the coastline anymore, and jump out of the boat, and have the boat go off and leave you… Not only would you be very wet, and very cold, and very lonely, but water is pretty much all you would see. The bottom of the ocean would be too far down to find, the coastline would be over the horizon, and this is all that most of these animals see all the time. Now as you look in here, you can see that we have lots of different kinds of animals in here, and if these animals were out in the ocean, each of them would have its own way of getting food, and each of them would have its own way of avoiding becoming food for somebody else as well, that’s a very important consideration. And we’re going to talk a little bit about some of their adaptations during the program, but what it really means for us, is that we have to have lots of different ways of putting food into an exhibit like this to accomodate all of the different animals, to make sure they get the right kinds of food, and enough food, and not too much food, so it takes a whole team of us to do this program on a Saturday morning. And we have an observer in the room, Adalin, and his job is to watch the animals, and see how they are responding to what we do, to make sure that we are getting the right food to the right animals, and then up top, we have some folks. The first two people that will be feeding animals are Ray and Maria, so, go ahead and drop your targets in the water, Maria and Ray. They’re going to be trying to get the attention of our two green sea turtles, you can see them right up in the center right now… We’re trying to get them to go off to the right-hand window, and you can see they immediately turned and went the other way… Some of you may have kids who do that at dinnertime, right? You call them, and they’re out the door and down the street, and there they go. So there’s one target you can see, and the reason we’re trying to get them over there, is they have a specialized diet, and here’s a little clip of Reggie, feeding the turtles, their diet consists of: romaine lettuce and green bell peppers! Now who can tell me what part of the ocean those grow in? Heh, they’re not ocean food, but they have the same nutrition as the seaweeds and the surf grass that the turtles would otherwise be eating, So that’s why we’re feeding it to them; it’s a nice, easy way to buy some food locally, and keep our turtles good and healthy. Now, we’ve got one turtle in place, and the other one not so much, that’s a very common occurrence here. So now Kensie has started to toss some food in for our biggest, fastest, animals in here. That’s our Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna. As well as the Dolphinfish, the ones with kind-of a big square head on at the top. So keep an eye on them; they are the speedsters, they’re also the biggest and fastest. They get all they want. And the turtle is out here trying to steal food from the tunas! She’s not nearly fast enough to out-swim them, but if she can get to one, she doesn’t really care if they bump into her, because she’s wearing that nice suit of armor, so it doesn’t really deter her, if she decided she’d like a little calamari with her Caesar’s salad, and so there she goes! Now, in the meantime, you’ll notice that the small tunas, and the bonitos, and some of the other animals are staying out of the way, They’re a little intimidated by the larger tunas, so what the smaller ones will do is zip through as fast as they can, grab some food, and get back out of the way, so they won’t get run over by those freight trains. There’s a couple of stingrays in here, there’s some sharks in here; for the most part they stay out of it. Although here comes one of our stingrays, up into the center. And so we’ll see if she goes out and tries to steal a little food as well; this feeding is not designed for her, but she might get a little bit of food. Now watch the Dolphinfish, there’s one right at the top center of the window here, look, a minute ago it was silver and now it’s a beautiful golden yellow. You’ll also sometimes see it turn a bright blue…and there is a turtle target! We’re trying to get that turtle over for her salad, and she is just totally ignoring what, I don’t know if that’s Maria or Ray, but totally ignoring the aquarist up there. And she’s going to eat what she wants to eat! This is one of the challenges of having an exhibit with multiple species in here, is getting them to do what *we* want, we have to adapt our behavior to whatever *they* want, and still try to get them to eat the things they want, so eventually we’ll be sure she gets some salad in there. [Rueful chuckle] This is just…it’s…you know who’s in charge! We are not in charge here! The animals are definitely in charge! But I want to go back to the dolphinfish, now there’s a nice silver one up at the top, and again if you watch them, they’ll change colors to the beautiful sky blue and that golden yellow, and that’s not our lights doing that. They have special cells in their skin that allow them to change colors. And that golden yellow color gives them the name the Mexican fishermen have used for generations, and that is “Dorado,” the golden fish. Some of you remember from your history class, the fabled city, “El Dorado,” The City of Gold, well this is “El Dorado,” the Fish of Gold. So they have many names in different countries. Now these are our sardines, and again, we’re not trying to feed them yet, although Kensie is going to try to feed them in a few minutes. But they know there’s food in the water, so they’ve come up to see if they can pick up any scraps. What they will do is feed on the pieces that flake off as the bigger fish are eating; there are crumbs in the water, so they’re the vacuum cleaners. But it’s dangerous up here when you’re a sardine because… You’re so small, you fit in everybody else’s mouth! And you’d probably rather not! So there’s this pull of, “maybe I can get some food, but maybe I could *become* some food!” And so they’ll probably spend most of their time down low until their food is in the water, where they can be better guaranteed that they’ll actually get something up top. Now the dolphinfish, some of you have probably eaten dolphinfish, or dorado, and not even realized it. Because most restaurants don’t use the name, “dolphinfish,” in particular when they’re serving it. Most restaurants are afraid that if they do that, you’re going to get confused and think they’re serving you dolphin! Which isn’t a fish at all, it’s a type of mammal. And they know that that’s not what most people want on their menu. So most restaurants use the Hawaiian name for dolphinfish, which is “Mahi Mahi”! Oh! Listen to you all now! Some of you are looking in here a little differently now, aren’t you? You’re trying to picture those dolphinfish on a bed of rice, with some green beans on the side, a little melted butter on the top, yeah, I know. It’s okay! You know, it’s okay to think about and talk about eating fish here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we do that all the time. And I like to eat fish as well! So I’m not going to stand up here and tell you to stop eating fish, just to try to save the ocean. What I am going to ask you to do, is the same thing that I do, and that is to pay attention to what kinds of fish you buy, because there are a lot of seafoods that are provided to you in a very sustainable way, and there are a lot of others that are provided to you in ways that are *not* so sustainable, and they are fishing out populations of fish. Where we can actually watch the populations of fish disappear, because we’re over-fishing them. In the case of my video clip here, the tuna population that we’re showing, the same thing that happens to many other types of fish. If you’d like to help us here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, to keep the oceans healthy for generations to come, so that we can all continue to enjoy great seafood and seeing animals like this in our exhibits, We’re going to ask you to use one tool that we’ve made up for you, it’s called “Seafood Watch” consumer guide program. And this has lists on it of best choices, and good alternatives, and if you choose your seafoods off of those lists, we can promise you you’re not harming the ocean in the course of feeding yourself. On the other hand, we also have a list called “Avoid,” and I’m going to ask all of you who are seafood lovers, and who here wants to admit to being a seafood lover, it’s okay, I am too. I’m going to ask you all to join me in using this program to help you decide what to eat and what you will avoid and avoid the things on our Red List for several years, to give the ocean a chance to recover from the damage that we’ve been doing for the last thirty to forty years. If you would like this, we have two different technologies for you: One of them, if you’re like me, and you prefer an older technology that called the “hardcopy,” some of you may remember when we used to print everything and read it on pieces of paper! I have some hardcopies of our “Seafood Watch” program here, But if you… would like a more modern technology… Here’s one I’ve got for you, and that is an app that you can download onto your iPhone or Android, it’s called “Seafood Watch.” And that app will, not only keep you updated on what to eat and what to avoid to keep the oceans healthy, it’ll even tell you where nearby you can find sustainably-provided seafood. So I hope that you’ll use one or the other of those technologies to help us keep the oceans healthy for generations to come. Now you see that Kensie has stopped throwing the food in here for the tunas, and instead what she’s doing is moving over to the top of the window, she’s throwing food in here for the sardines. That’s what’s gotten them so excited, and this is where they start to get disorganized, when they are getting their own food, and it’s when they’re most likely to *become* food for the larger fish, but we just fed the larger fish! So the large fish are just not motivated to try very hard; they’re all nice, and happy, and relaxed! Think of yourself right now after Thanksgiving dinner. Where you just know there’s more food out there, but it’s not worth going out to get it. But a couple hours later when you’ve had a chance to digest that, you might be willing to try a little harder, and by then the sardines will all be fed and back down to the bottom. Now what I’m going to do is turn the microphone off, and just let you watch the rest of this, and eventually the sardines will make their curtain call and go back down to the bottom. Things will go back to the way they were a few minutes ago. I’ll stick around to answer questions and hand out the hardcopy “Seafood Watch” guides. I want to thank you so much for joining us here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, have a great rest of the day! Bye-bye!

6 thoughts on “Monterey Bay Aquarium – “The Open Sea” Feeding Show – 2013.07.20

  1. Thanks for filming this exhibit! I thought it was the best one! When you do go to the Monterey Bay aquarium, please go to Open Ocean feeding at 11 AM! They only do it once a day. You will not regret it!

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