The range and selection of exhibits at the Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium is constantly changing as fishermen bring in species and others are returned to the sea. There follows a selection of species that may be resident in the Aquarium at the time of your visit.
Beadlet Anemones come in a variety of colours and can grow to about 8cm tall. an adult can have 192 tentacles arranged in six circles around their mouths. It is a solitary species and does not form colonies but will live with related animals and the clones produced when it grows a 'bud' and divides.
It can also produce baby anemones with twelve tentacles which are expelled through the mouth and settle all around the mother and there are sometimes examples of this in the Aquarium. It will attack unrelated beadlet anemones and has special blue beads at the base of its tentacles that produce nettle capsules to drive them away.
This long snake like fish can grow up to 3 metres in length and has a smooth scaleless grey-blue or grey - black skin. Its fins are fused together to form a continuous fringe along its back and under its tail.
It is mainly a nocturnal animal and would normally rest in a rock crevice or opening in wrecks during the day, coming out to hunt at night. In the aquarium they do tend to hide away but get used to being fed during the day.
They are a remarkable and intelligent creatures that spend its life growing and building its strength up for when it matures at 5 -15 years into an adult. Then it stops eating and heads out into the deep water where, at over 4000 metres in the deepest part of the ocean, it will spawn once and then die.
Our congers live with us and are looked after for about three years before they are returned to the sea to continue their lives and hopefully successfully spawn to ensure that other generations of Conger will inhabit our seas.
Members of the wrasse family have scaly bodies, long dorsal fins and robust, flattened teeth. The cuckoo wrasse is one of the most colourful fish that occurs in the seas around Britain and Ireland. It has a slender body and head and reaches a maximum length of 35cm. The female is rose-red to orange-red in colour with three or four black blotches interspersed by white blotches on the back, behind the dorsal fin. The male has brilliant iridescent blue on its head and blue lines and blotches along the body. Like many other wrasse species, the older females can change sex to become males with the characteristic iridescent blue coloration.
Called "Blind Dogs" in Scotland because they are able to close their eyes (unlike most other fish), Dogfish are small, shallow-water sharks with blunt heads and slender, elongate bodies and with two dorsal fins situated towards the tail end of the body. The dogfish is the most common shark encountered by divers. It is usually between 60-70cm in length although it can be up to 1m. The upper surface is greyish to pale brown with small dark brown spots, the underside is creamy-white. The skin is rough, similar to the texture of sand paper. In the aquarium you may be able to see the "Mermaids Purses" which are the eggs laid by the dogfish
They live in amongst the sea grasses and are perfectly camouflaged there. There are a number of pipefish and this is a picture of one of the larger Snake Pipefish.
The cod that you will see in the aquarium are caught in fishermen's creels and would normally be chopped up for bait if the fishermen had not gone to the trouble of keeping them alive until they could get back to port and bring them to the Aquarium.
They are normally juvenile cod called codling when they are brought to us but they quickly grow with the regular feeding and after a couple of years are returned to the sea.