The first batch of larvae, collected as eggs from the Discovery Cove exhibit at SeaWorld Orlando, are growing fast. Two days after hatching, some of the larvae were ready to feed, displaying pigmented eyes, a functional gut, and mouth.We added just enough live phytoplankton to turn the water a light green color and stocked the tank with size-sorted zooplankton.
By day four all of the different types of larvae were eating well. We haphazardly sample a few larvae from the surface using a small beaker to examine their development and look for species diversity. As the larvae develop they become difficult to capture this way so the sampling often becomes biased. There are several hundred larvae going strong in the 140 gallon rearing tank and they seem well spread out through the tank. When you look at the rearing tank from above it is obvious that several species are present. Each type seems to prefer slightly different areas of the tank and are probably influenced by light and current levels.
We recieved another collection from Discovery Cove late last week. The hatch rate was very good and initial observations of the larvae seem to include a greater diversity. More to come…
Matthew L. Wittenrich, PhD
Senior Biological Scientist
University of Florida
Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory