SEA Aquarium has bred more than 2,000 marine creatures

SEA Aquarium has bred more than 2,000 marine creatures
Estuarine seahorse, around 3 months old, one of the species bred by the S.E.A. Aquarium that are kept in their back-of-house facility.

S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa has bred more than 2,000 marine creatures, including sharks

Billed as the world's largest aquarium when it was unveiled in November 2012, the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa now has another achievement to crow about.

Since its opening, the attraction has successfully bred more than 2,000 marine creatures, including more than 100 sharks and thousands of jellyfish.

This is thanks to an in-house team of aquarists, who take care of all the animals' needs, including feeding and observing them daily.

While the aquatic theme park lost the title of the world's biggest aquarium to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom on Hengqin island in China recently, its thriving marine life remains a big draw.

S.E.A. Aquarium is home to more than 100,000 marine animals from more than 800 species.

About 60 aquarists work on the breeding programme, including those who work at the Marine Aquaculture and Research Centre, an off-site marine research facility in Choa Chu Kang, where some of the breeding takes place.

The aquarists work on creating optimum conditions for the animals' well-being.

For example, they look at elements such as stable temperatures, oxygenation and water movement and adjust these to suit different species.

There are two main kinds of breeding processes: natural and assisted.

The sharks, for example, can reproduce on their own either by laying eggs or giving birth to young ones, depending on the species.

The aquarists thentake the eggs or baby sharks to a controlled environment where they can develop without the risk of being gobbled up by predators.

But the jellyfish species require help.

The aquarists have to set up special aquariums where they can control the water temperature to ensure a conducive environment for breeding.

Different species develop at different rates.

For example, jellyfish go through three stages of growth lasting about three months before they can join the adult jellyfish.

Newborn marine life is placed in back-of-house facilities and given special care until the creatures are ready to be placed in the habitats for display.

But visitors can see the eggs of the sharks, such as bamboo sharks and zebra sharks, which are on display.

The exhibit has a magnifying glass with which visitors can see the different stages of eggs in the water and learn about embryo development.

Successful breeding in the aquarium means that the aquarium does not have to rely so much on suppliers and can sustain and replenish its marine life.

Mr Ramon Barbosa Costas, 36, senior curator of the S.E.A. Aquarium, says: "We are focusing on breeding as many species as we can and reducing the impact on wildlife."

If the breeding goes well, the aquarium can also exchange various species with other aquariums in the world to refresh the genetic pool and produce healthy marine animals, he says.

"What we are doing here is important. It is a step forward in our larger effort to ultimately help conserve natural populations."

This article was first published on JUNE 22, 2014.
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