My favorite aquarium or zoo, though small, is the South Carolina Aquarium. It showcases the native animals found in the state starting in the upstate mountains all the way down to the deep ocean. While at other aquariums you get to view exotic species you probably won’t see in your lifetime, the South Carolina Aquarium is essentially a living guidebook to the state’s flora and fauna! Not to mention, they have a touch tank!
For the month of October, the aquarium has taken on a Halloween theme called Scary’um Aquarium. It was worth the short walk through the haunted aquarium section just to see my husband jump!
I think the little slider is contemplating the solar reflection quality of the plastic tombstone in his tank.
These Yellow Rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta) seem to be reacting to the change in temperature outside, even though they have a nice enclosure inside. The color pattern of these two is found along the Southeastern coast.
Another reptile hanging out in the aquarium, I think this fellow is the Canebrake or Timber Rattlesnake.
We caught a feeding show in the Great Ocean Tank. They have several different methods that they use to make sure the fish are fed properly and all the work is done by scuba-diving volunteers.
I mentioned above that they showcase native animals and plants, but there is an exotic swimming around. It’s the Lionfish, an invader of our coastal waters that can cause a painful wound when encountered. These fish make nice aquarium additions, until they get too large and then their owners dump them in the ocean, their ‘home’.
But back to the natives, we had walked the beach at Fort Moultrie a few days before and found stranded Cannonball jellyfish. Oddly, still clinging to the drying jellies were young Spider Crabs. Lo and behold, they are in the aquarium, too! This fellow was holding on to a Sea Nettle.
While juveniles, these crabs hang on to jellies and either eat the scraps or, creepily, eat the jellies they ride on. Another curious habit they have when young and bottom-dwelling is placing debris on their backs. This fellow below has used some seawhip as camouflage.
And finally, the biggest treat of our visit was meeting Phoenix! She’s an American Kestrel that met an uninsulated powerline. While lucky to be found, she lost most of her talons and is incapable of catching prey.
We noticed her beak immediately and asked if it was due to her trauma, but as it turns out, Kestrels have irregular beaks with a sharp protrusion called a ‘tominal tooth’ to puncture the spinal cords of small animals. Another neat adaptation they have is the black spotting on the back of their heads said to resemble eyespots and fool would-be attackers. A very neat, attitude-filled bird!
South Carolina Aquarium: http://scaquarium.org/