April 07, 2020

Among the creatures coming to Boston

Leafy and weedy sea dragons from the southern coast of Australia whose irregular shape — like aquatic vegetation — allows them to blend in to algae and avoid predators. Like sea horses, the male sea dragons have the job of carrying fertilized eggs for 4 to 6 weeks and giving birth.

The hungry creatures, on loan from the Dallas World Aquarium, weekly go through $157 worth of a special kind of tiny shrimp that has to be sent by Federal Express from Florida.

Saltwater crocodiles from India and Australia that in the wild can grow to 24 feet long and have been known to devour people and kangaroos. “They won’t get that big here — it all depends on how many staff they eat,” quipped fish curator Steven Bailey.

Aquarium workers have built a mock mangrove swamp habitat for the reptiles, which are now a foot long. “They’re the Wade Boggs of the exhibit: They eat nothing but chicken seven days a week,” said Bailey, referring to the former Red Sox hitter whose superstitious love of chicken was a minor legend in Boston.

North Atlantic puffins that, because they are severely threatened in the wild by drifting air pollution, will live in a two-story exhibition space with filtered air to ensure they have the best living conditions.

Japanese spider crabs whose legs can grow to an 11-foot span, making them the world’s widest crustacean. In some Japanese restaurants, the spider crabs are kept under an acrylic floor, allowing diners to pick out their dinner.

Garden eels from the Sea of Cortes in Baja California that live immersed in sand and poke their heads up to gobble passing plankton.

A display of shorebirds, with machine-generated waves sweeping over the sand from which the birds pluck tiny creatures to eat. The exhibit will also include a high-definition television screen showing a super-realistic film about the creatures in the wild.

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