Now Open With Flowers

Now Open With Flowers

We’ve celebrated our first Open Sunday of the year at the Island Bay Bait House Aquarium with a big bunch of tulips.  Well... actually, Sea Tulips.

These tulips are not plants at all.  They're a type of animal called Tunicates.  Maybe you've heard of Sea Squirts which are also a kind of Tunicate.  New Zealand has at least 166 species of Sea Squirts. Some live alone.  Others form groups.

Sea Tulip is the common name of a few species of Sea Squirts in the genus Pyura that live in coastal waters at depths of up to 80m. Their common name comes from their appearance - they look like a tulip on a long stalk.

Like all Tunicates, Sea Tulips are filter feeders and have a complex gut system called the pharyngeal basket which filters out plankton from the sea water.   A Sea Tulip lives for about one year. It breeds in the winter and then dies. Its larvae settle on the seabed in late winter and early spring. By next year they're ready to reproduce again.

If you want to know more about these fascinating animals click here.  

We invite you to join us on one of our weekly Open Sundays at the Island Bay Bait House Aquarium to see and learn about Sea Tulips and all the other marine life in our care.

We're open from 10 am to 3 pm every Sunday and entry is $2 for children under 17 years of age and $5 for adults.