Sixty-nine Poteau GEAR UP seventh grade students recently traveled to Jenks to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium. The aquarium allowed students to self-explore the nine exhibits it houses, including the most recent exhibit, the Polynesian Reef. There are several touch tanks that allow students a hands-on experience with aquatic creatures.
The Polynesian Reef exhibit is home to many species of fish and coral. Yellowtail coris can be found in this exhibit. In order to maximize their reproductive success, yellowtail coris begin life as female, mate, and lay eggs. Then as the female fish grows larger later in life, they will become male in order to fertilize many females’ eggs.
Sea Turtle Island opened in the Spring of 2017 and is home to many tropical fish as well as a 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle. Through the multi-level observation options, students viewed the exhibit from underwater and above while peering down. The exhibit educates onlookers of the endangered status of sea turtles and how the actions of Oklahomans can impact the turtles’ homes.
The Ozark Stream exhibit may look a bit more familiar. This exhibit houses river otters, beavers, and raccoons which can all be found in Oklahoma. Students observed the beavers through a special camera placed within the den. The river otter exhibit displays the otters underwater and how their sleek, streamlined bodies allow them to swim skillfully in their environment.
“The aquarium is a valuable resource we have right here in Oklahoma for our students so that they may learn more about nature beyond our landlocked state,” said Education Coordinator Leslie Hemphill.