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Creeping Around the Science Center During the
"Creature Feature" Virtual Tour
On Halloween, the California Science Center was thrilled to host our Member families live on Zoom for a spooktacular “Creature Feature” virtual tour of our Ecosystems galleries. Ecosystems houses many of the 290 different species of animals found at the Science Center. The tour was guided by Curator of Life Sciences, Dr. Chuck Kopczak (dressed as a pirate) and Director of Husbandry, Misha Body (wearing a lion costume), with guest appearances by some of our animal care staff and divers.
Members saw a variety of creatures and critters throughout the tour and observed some spooky animal behaviors. One of these creatures was the giant sea bass in our Kelp Forest tank, which definitely lives up to its name. According to Dr. Chuck, giant sea bass are the largest fish commonly found in kelp forests in Southern California. They live to be about 75 years old and can weigh up to 650 pounds!
Other creature sightings included a leopard shark, which has its mouth on the underside of its snout, helping it to feed on prey in muddy bottoms. These bottom feeders help keep our tank clean by consuming dead or weak fish. Dr. Chuck noted that although sharks are fearsome animals, the vast majority of them pose no danger to human beings.
Members spotted a variety of intriguing critters who make up the complex food web in the kelp forest ecosystem. Misha highlighted the predatory sarcastic fringehead, a favorite among our guests, and detritivore Kellet’s whelks, which use a proboscis, a long tube that extends out from their shell, to feed on dead or dying animals.
One of the more fascinating creatures that inspired many astute questions among our younger Members on the virtual tour was the red octopus. This intelligent animal lacks a spine and shell and has special cells all over its body called chromatophores, allowing it to change the color and texture of its skin to hide from predators—making it a master of disguise according to Misha.
In our Touch Tank, Members were treated to sightings of various sea stars differing in texture and color. Dr. Chuck highlighted bat stars which come in a variety of colors and specialize in eating dead animals. They have small tube-like feet to help them move around and webbing between their short triangular arms. Interestingly, their mouths are located on their underside and they can expand their stomach out through their mouth when they find food.
To help keep the animals healthy in our Ecosystems galleries, we use special equipment such as pumps and filters to keep the Kelp Forest tank clean. Our divers have various methods to feed fish, including using unique markings on fish to identify them for special diets and target feeding in small groups. Although kelp grows in our tank, divers also collect kelp from the ocean every three weeks to transplant it into the tank. This kelp helps feed and provides shelter for many of our animals as well.
The interest and engagement in the virtual tour from our Member families was a real Halloween treat, and we received many comments telling us how much they enjoyed the program.
"I certainly learned a great deal and enjoyed every minute." — Science Center Member
"I really liked the octopuses and starfish, they were very interesting and I liked the sharks and eels, they were cool." — Young Science Center Member
"It was great. I'm a single adult and realize that this was more of a family, even children's event but it was still very interesting and engaging." — Science Center Member
Thank you again to everyone who participated in the “Creature Feature” virtual tour. We look forward to seeing more of our Members, friends and supporters at future opportunities to experience the California Science Center’s mission of science learning for everyone, even while our doors are closed.
Download more issues of The Nucleus
October 23, 2020 issue featuring Ecosystems Virtually Open for Creature Feature Program on Halloween
October 9, 2020 issue featuring How the California Science Center is Preparing to Reopen Safely When Permitted
September 23, 2020 issue featuring How Science Can Build A Better Future — Interview with Ann Druyan
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