Ask the Aquarium: Where Do You Get Your Fish?
BY SHERRY WHITE
Special to The Pilot
Q. Where does the aquarium get its fish?
A. This is one of the most frequently asked questions at the aquarium, and it has several answers.
Some specimens are collected from the wild, others are donated by area fishermen and some are purchased from reputable commercial collectors. But the answer that surprises most visitors is that many animals are traded among facilities around the world.
Fish trading is a common practice throughout the international aquarium community. When aquariums have a surplus of a species, they communicate within a global network via list-servers and other methods. Specimens are routinely shipped cross-country and across oceans.
The North Carolina Aquariums regularly trade fish with each other. They also exchange fish and other animals with zoos, museums and other aquariums around the country. A fish, or group of fish, may outgrow an exhibit at a facility, and another facility may be looking for just such a specimen. There are also worldwide breeding programs specially designed for propagating and transporting live, captive-bred animals.
Fish-trading practices help reduce collection of animals from the wild. While many facilities are able to breed certain fish species, the majority of fishes - especially saltwater species - are still collected from the wild.
Along with conserving wild populations, fish trading is economically smart. It reduces the cost of purchasing new animals, and usually the only expense of trading fish is the cost of shipping. With special packaging and preparation, most animals can be shipped via commercial delivery services.
International fish trading is a win-win, benefiting both the animals and the facilities. The practice provides the North Carolina Aquariums with the amazing and diverse collection of animals visitors have come to expect and enjoy.
The state operates three public aquariums: one in Pine Knoll Shores, another at Fort Fisher and a third on Roanoke Island. The aquariums are administered by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and are designed to inspire appreciation and conservation of North Carolina's aquatic environment.
For more information about the aquariums, visit www.ncaquariums.com, or call (800) 832-FISH.
Sherry White works for the public affairs office of the N.C. Aquariums.
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