|Flushed with success|
Things are going down the pan at Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary!
Things - in this case - being 30 or so baby Lumpsuckers, inch-long infants each equipped with an adapted fin that enables them to cling like suction cups to any hard surface.
Staff wondered if a novel new environmental display they had created featuring a sunken lavatory would appeal to the newly arrived litter.
To their delight it turns out that lumpsuckers plus toilet is a marriage of perfect convenience.
″We created this display mainly to deliver an environmental message about things people should avoid flushing because they can end up being a hazard or a pollutant if they reach the sea,″ said senior aquarist Matt Fuller.
″We hadn´t really decided what creature or creatures to feature in it, but when we learned there were baby lumpsuckers in need of a home we thought we´d give it a try.″
The youngsters, reared from hundreds of minute hatchlings at the Sanctuary´s sister centre in Weymouth, are now very much attached to their unusual home...literally!
″The porcelain surface seems very much to their liking,″ said Matt.
″And when they´re not stuck to it like limpets they really seem to enjoy dodging in and out of the bowl when the lid pops up, which we´ve arranged for it to do every few seconds.″
Sanctuary visitors are enthralled by the extraordinary new loo exhibit and its cute occupants.
The lumpsucker babies are just a few weeks old and will eventually grow to the size of footballs.
They hatched from a batch of eggs accidentally trawled up by an inshore fisherman.
Female lumpsuckers lay their eggs in rocky shallows in the spring and leave the male to guard them while they themselves return to deeper waters.
The male tends his prospective offspring with such devotion - fanning the eggs to prevent stagnation and chasing away any potential predator - that he doesn´t even take time to feed himself.
Most male lumpsuckers are so weak and exhausted by the time the eggs hatch that they die soon afterwards, so perhaps the inadvertent netting of eggs persuaded the male in this case to follow his partner and maybe live another year.
In the wild only a tiny fraction of the hatchling lumpsuckers would survive, but SEA LIFE has become adapt at rearing them.
″As ours grow we will ship some out to other SEA LIFE centres from time to time to make sure our lav´ doesn´t get overcrowded,″ said Matt.
In the meantime the toilet habits of baby lumpsuckers are something SEA LIFE visitors are delighted to be privy to!
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary|
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale or Matt Fuller on 01485 533576
Date: 31st August 2009