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Fascinating facts about the world of the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Did you know?

  • 1

    “Ovoviviparous” means the animal gives birth to live young. Rays, for example, are ovoviviparous.

  • 2

    When in danger or hunting for prey, an octopus can fit through a hole as big as its eye.

  • 3

    The Sunfish, which weighs up to 2 000kg, has a brain weighing only 4g.

  • 4

    The Two Oceans Aquarium is currently owned by Lexshell (Pty) Limited and Investec Bank. It operates as a private trust governed by a Board of Trustees. The Aquarium is a self-sustaining organisation and relies on revenue generated through visitation, alternative revenue streams and corporate sponsorships. It does not receive any funding from municipal, provincial or national government.

  • 5

    The Aquarium presently contributes almost R5 (9%) of every adult ticket sold to education programmes. The Two Oceans Aquarium is committed to environmental education in South Africa and to promoting positive changes towards the management of our marine resources. Over the years it has steadily increased its input in environmental education and today the value of its education programmes is in the region R4-million per annum.

  • 6

    There are 39 species of klipvis and all are found only off the coast of southern Africa! Most klipvis live in shallow rocky areas, but some can also be found in sandy areas. Klipvis do not lay eggs; their eggs are fertilised internally. Mating can be a lengthy process and take up to an hour or longer! The females give birth to fully developed babies. 

  • 7

    Cuttlefish are related to octopus and squid. Like octopus, cuttlefish can change both their body colour and texture in response to their environment and survival needs. 

  • 8

    Hagfish secrete a white fluid that expands rapidly on contact with seawater, producing enough slime to fill a 7-litre bucket in minutes.

  • 9

    Giant spider crabs are the largest crustaceans in the world – males grow to approximately 1m in height, with a 4m leg stretch. These crabs live at depths of about 400m and in temperatures between 11ºC and 14ºC.

  • 10

    Ragged-tooth sharks grow to about 3.2m in length and live for about 30 years.

  • 11

    Sea fans look like small trees, but they are actually colonies of animals (polyps) living together in the shape of a fan. Each polyp has eight feathery tentacles. When the polyps come out to feed they give the “branches” a fuzzy appearance.

  • 12

    The male seahorse gives birth to babies – the female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch and, when they are ready, the babies hatch out of the pouch into the water.

  • 13

    Soles start their lives looking like normal fish, with eyes on either side of their heads. As they grow, their bodies become flat and elongated, so one eye moves to the top of the head. Both eyes of adult sole sit on top of their flat heads. The eyes can focus independently of one another, much like those of chameleons.

  • 14

    The South African butterflyfish is the only butterflyfish species to be found in both the Indian (warm) and the Atlantic (cold) oceans. The South African butterflyfish is endemic to our coast.

  • 15

    The I&J Predator Exhibit has an enormous 11m wide by 4m high acrylic panel and holds a volume of 2-million litres.

  • 16

    Juvenile and adult majestic butterflyfishes are completely different colours: juveniles are black with light-blue stripes, whereas adults are bright yellow with many blue spots.

  • 17

    Octopuses have strong beaks, similar to those of parrots, with which they can tear their prey. Some octopuses also use toxins from poisonous glands to kill prey. The toxin of one species of octopus in Australia is capable of killing a man within seconds.

  • 18

    There are currently 8 500 species of sea plants in the world and more are being discovered every day. Ten percent of the world’s sea plant species (850) are found only off the southern African coastline.

  • 19

    Capetonians refer to the southeaster wind as the “Cape Doctor” because it “blows away” pollution and “cleans” the air. Out of sight, out of mind?

  • 20

    Kelp plants use hold-fasts instead of roots to attach themselves to rocks.

  • 21

    The mimic blenny imitates the colours and behaviour of the harmless blue cleaner wrasse, but instead of cleaning, it tears flesh from unsuspecting fish waiting for a clean.

  • 22

    Coral reefs are formed over millions of years and are found in the warm oceans of the world.

  • 23

    Corals are not plants or even rocks. They are colonies of small animals, known as polyps, living closely together with minute single-celled plants called zooxanthellae.

  • 24

    Angelfishes are not such angels – they have a secret weapon in the form of a sharp spine on each gill cover that they use to defend themselves and to wedge themselves into cracks on the reef.

  • 25

    Butterflyfishes are so named as they dart to and fro about the reef as butterflies flutter between plants.

  • 26

    The Aquarium’s vision is “to foster love, respect, and understanding of our oceans, to inspire support for their future well-being”.

  • 27

    In an effort to go even more “green”, the Aquarium recently introduced a range of power-saving measures, including LED lighting in its ablution facilities and a solar geyser for the upstairs showers. It also got serious about waste recycling, buying colour-coded bins and even recycling some of its old computers.

  • 28

    In 2010, the Aquarium released two ragged-tooth sharks, Mandy and Noodle, back into the ocean off Gordon’s Bay. Noodle had been in the I&J Predator Exhibit since April 2008, after being caught off Struisbaai; Mandy was caught in February 2009 in Hamburg, south of East London.

  • 29

    The Aquarium first opened its doors in 1995, after eight years of research and 18 months of construction.

  • 30

    The Kelp Forest Exhibit contains a massive 800 000 litres of water, making it the second biggest tank in the Aquarium.

  • 31

    The Oceans of Contrast – Atlantic Oceans Gallery showcases cryptic fish that play hide and seek, the translucent jellyfish and the shy octopus. You can also feast your eyes on the rare Knysna seahorse and the alien-like giant sea crab.

  • 32

    The Oceans of Contrast – Indian Oceans Gallery is the place to find movie character Nemo’s brethren, also known as western clownfish. The gallery also features other vibrant tropical beauties, honeycomb eels and a coral exhibit.

  • 33

    There are seven separate galleries at the Aquarium:
    Oceans of Contrast – Indian Oceans Gallery
    Oceans of Contrast – Atlantic Oceans Gallery
    AfriSam Children’s Play Centre
    Sappi River Meander
    Frogs: Beyond the Pond
    Kelp Forest Exhibit
    I&J Predator Exhibit

  • 34

    The I&J Predator Exhibit holds 2-million litres of water and the Kelp Forest Exhibit holds 800 000 litres. Every time you take a bath, you use between 150 and 200 litres of water.

  • 35

    The I&J Predator Exhibit‘s viewing panels are 28cm thick – without any distortion or discolouration. An average ruler is 30cm long!