Valid question: if The Maritime Aquarium’s mission is to let you discover and get close to the wonders of Long Island Sound … in hopes of inspiring you to become stewards of the Sound, through all of your actions, big and small … then why is there a BARRACUDA in one of the Aquarium’s exhibits?
Since when are there barracuda in Long Island Sound?!
Swimmers and divers, relax. You don’t have to worry about barracuda when you dip your toes in the Sound.
There is, however – yes – a barracuda in The Maritime Aquarium.
A 4-footer. It’s in the Sea Turtles Exhibit.
Why it’s here is a feel-good story about cooperation between aquariums. The barracuda came to us recently from New England Aquarium in Boston, which no longer had a place for it. New England’s options were limited. Endanger the barracuda’s health (and other animals’ health) by over-populating a tank? Not good. Releasing the barracuda into Boston harbor? Clearly not an option. Reaching out to colleagues to find it a new home? Hello, Maritime Aquarium.
This is hardly the first time The Maritime Aquarium has exchanged with, accepted from or distributed animals to other aquariums. Our jellyfish-culturing operation is so good that we have shipped jellies to such facilities as the Georgia Aquarium, Tennesse Aquarium, Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida and the Atlantis aquarium in the Bahamas. Over the years, even larger animals like seals, sharks and sea turtles have come and gone. These exchanges haven’t been limited to marine animals. The meerkats on exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium came to us from the Hogle Zoo in Utah.
Our ability to communicate with, assist and be assisted by other aquariums has only increased since The Maritime Aquarium received prestigious accreditation last year by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
And so we have a barracuda.
These fearsome-looking fish commonly unnerve snorklers and scuba divers, because of their pronounced underbite of fang-like teeth and because of their disconcerting habit of curiously hanging around you in the water. They have a reputation – perhaps exaggerated – for being attracted by shiny objects (like rings and bracelets), which they mistake for the shiny scales of fish. One confused bite can inflict a serious wound.
Barracuda grow to 5 to 6 feet long, and 30 pounds. Their elongated bodies are built for speed – reportedly as fast as 36 mph.
They live around the world in warmer waters. In the western Atlantic, barracuda range from about Bermuda all the way down to Brazil, including all of the Caribbean, Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico.
Historically, you wouldn’t find them in Long Island Sound. But the Sound is getting warmer, you know, so …