While marveling at the many species of fish that swim past you in the thousand gallons of water at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, have you ever stopped to think about where those fish came from? How much do they weigh? Or, what is the specific species of a particular fish? Now, through the new “Fish and Chips” interactive exhibit, visitors will be able to learn those specific details and more about a wide variety of the Aquarium’s fish through a permanent Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID). To date, the Virginia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the Western Hemisphere to offer such a program.
Using RFID, a simple antenna senses a microchip in the majority of the fish throughout the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium. As they swim past a monitor located on the outside of the tank, it “pings” and instantly provides information on the species, habitat, range and other interesting facts on a computer screen for visitors to read. For instance, you may discover that a croaker, which has been nicknamed “Kermit,” was found in Virginia Beach’s own Rudee Inlet, weighs 1.7 pounds and was brought into the aquarium during the summer of 2010. The tiny microchip that is harmlessly injected under the fish’s skin while it is lightly sedated works similar to the identification technology that is used in household pets today. Not every fish in the Aquarium will have a microchip; only those that are physically able.
Not only is this program a great tool for visitors to learn more about the specific species of various fish, it also allows aquarists to monitor the overall health of the fish since they are more easily identified. Originally developed by researchers to monitor the movement of wild fish, the Virginia Aquarium already has been using RFID technology with its shark and sea turtle residents. The chips previously have been scanned during veterinary procedures, but not until recently did advances allow for in-water identification.
“Fish & Chips” will continue to help the aquarium educate the public and its visitors about Virginia’s marine environment and to help inspire conservation efforts by learning more about the various species of fish and how they behave in certain environments. For more information on the “Fish and Chips” RFID permanent exhibit, visithttp://www.virginiaaquarium.com/animals-exhibits/Pages/FishChipsExhibit.aspx. For more information about the Virginia Aquarium or the facility’s research and conservation efforts, please visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, in its 25th year, is a member of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, and fulfills these organizations’ exemplary accreditation standards, including those for education, research, conservation and animal care.
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