Unique Couples

February 14, 2020

Mississippi Aquarium will feature more than 200 aquatic and land species. That being said, there are hundreds of unique relationships beyond the animals in our care that we can all learn from in the "Love" department. In this Unique Couples Valentine's Day Series (not a real series), learn all about aquatic relationships that make sense and a few that will leave you scratching your fin.

Book Title: Daddy Knows Best

Description: Sunny the Seahorse is a proud father to five precious fries, so when he found out he was expecting 1000 more, he was in for a real ride! Follow Sunny on his journey through pregnancy, parenthood, and all that’s in between. Join us for a journey to discover tales of relationships, of love and of passion in the deep blue sea.

About Seahorses relationships: Female seahorses produce eggs which are transferred into the males pouch, a 5-10 second process. During the transfer, the male expels sperm into the water which then have to make their way into the pouch to join the eggs. Once the eggs are inside the pouch it seals shut. It’s still a mystery as to how the sperm find their way into the pouch especially since the seahorse has a very low sperm count yet can produce 100 offspring.

Book Title: The Stinger

Book Description: Chloe the Clownfish and Annie the Anemone were living the good life...Chloe lured in the food and cleaned while Annie cooked... They were quite the #DynamicDuo. That is until Elliot the Eel tried to get involved.

About Clownfish and Anemone's relationships: Clownfish cannot survive without a host anemone. The anemone’s stinging tentacles protect the clownfish and their eggs from predators. The clownfish in turn, helps protect the anemone from butterflyfish and provides water circulation and nutrients. It’s still a mystery as to how a clownfish avoids being stung but it appears that it is in part due to a specialized layer of mucus. When a young clownfish first approaches an anemone it makes very tentative touches. It’s likely that these touches helps the clownfish secrete the mucus that makes it immune, or at least invisible, to the anemones stinging cells. Once the slime layer is in place the clownfish makes the anemone home.

Book Title: Betrayal - When a Romantic Kiss Turns Fatal

Book Description: Cuttlefish like to cuddle and this fatal page turner is sure to make your heart skip a beat! While members of the cephalopod family won't be calling the Aquarium home, there's much for us to learn from these masters of disguise.

About Cuttlefish relationships:A female cuttlefish indicates she is ready to mate by assuming a receptive posture to attract a male. The male and female mate by grasping each other’s heads with their tentacles. The male deposits sperm into her mouth using a specialized arm. Once she has mated, she will display a white stripe across her body indicating that she is unavailable. Fertilization of the eggs occurs internally and then she will lay 150-200 eggs in crevices along the bottom of the sea. She may lay a second batch of eggs before programmed death occurs. Reproducing just once before death is known as semelparous. The mechanisms and reasons why death follows egg laying is unknown in cuttlefish.

Book Title: What's Love got to do with it

Book Description: An unlikely duo, the sea turtle and yellow tang fish don’t seem like they’d ever cross paths. But it's not love that drives these two species together. It’s more so a relationship built on convenience.

About sea turtles and yellow tang fish's relationship: The relationship between yellow tangs and sea turtles is an example of mutualism. Mutualism is an ecological interaction between at least two species (partners) where both partners benefit from the relationship. Green sea turtles will grow algae on their shells which can cause friction when swimming and potentially slow them down when fleeing a predator. Yellow tangs need to eat algae to survive. Yellow tangs will live with a sea turtle and eat the algae off its shell. Living in proximity to the sea turtle also offers the tang protection.

Book Title: A Glass Sponge

Book Description: Love. It can be found everywhere, from the surface of the sea down to the bottom of the deep blue. Meet two shrimp larvae, who end up in the same glass sponge and have to learn to live together...forever.

About the shrimp and Venus flower basket sponge's relationship: The relationship between the small abyssal shrimp and the Venus flower basket, a unique ornate sponge that builds an exoskeleton from silica, is a form of symbiosis. Symbiosis is an ecological interaction between at least two species (partners) where there is persistent contact between the partners. In the case of the shrimp and sponge, the shrimp live in the sponge and keep the sponge free of debris and the sponge, in turn, provides protection for the shrimp. What makes this symbiosis somewhat creepy is that the pair of shrimp that live in the sponge are trapped. The shrimp pair move into the Venus flower basket when they are small and can fit through the openings of the sponge exoskeleton. Once the shrimp grow larger, they are unable to get out. They mate and the babies leave the sponge to go find a mate and a sponge of their own.