EUROPEAN UNION OF AQUARIUMS CURATORS Conference 2019 october 14 - 18

Tuesday, October 15

Session 1 - 10:30 - 12:30 - Chairperson: Paul Van den Sande

Title of presentation:  IUCN Red List in Aquariums

Presenting author:  Catarina Fonseca

Institute: Oceanário de Lisboa

Aquariums have an increasing responsibility to contribute to the conservation of the species they care for. Despite significant advances, threats to marine biodiversity still surpass conservation efforts and aquariums can play a critical role in the protection of the species they host.

In 2018, Oceanário de Lisboa joined The Deep in the partnership with the IUCN Species Survival Commission to collaborate on marine assessments for IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. One of the main outcomes from this partnership was the creation of the Aquarium Species Assessment project led by Oceanário, that focuses on the assessment of all Not Evaluated marine species held in aquarium collections.

This talk will focus on results obtained until now and future steps.

Title of presentation: The next EAZA campaign “WHICH FISH? “: a joint opportunity for aquaria and zoos to contribute to the sustainability of aquatic animals

Presenting author:  Claudia Gili*

Co-authors: Florence Huron, Laura Myers, Teresa Pina, Daniele Rizzelli, Anna Mielnikiewicz, Sandrine Camus, Bruna Valettini.

Institute: Acquario di Genova & Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

The next EAZA campaign has been recently launched in Valencia to increase awareness about the threats to aquatic fauna caused by indiscriminate fishing, with the aim to promote sustainable behavioural changes in all campaign participants (and their visitors).

The fisheries industry represents in fact a very essential business of profit for hundreds of thousands of workers and it is currently in a critical condition due to the constant threats and decrease of aquatic species stocks, globally captured for human and animal consumption. This topic will be addressed by involving the operating units of the snack bars/restaurants and animal operations in zoos & aquaria, in their visitors and stakeholders.

Aside from fish consumption, although in a smaller scale capacity, comes the issue related to the necessity to guarantee a sustainable acquisition program for fish and invertebrates displayed and maintained, by also promoting further implementation of sustainable collections and breeding programs.

This campaign will therefore be the opportunity for aquaria and zoos to join forces on a common mission to contribute to the survival of live oceans.

Title of presentation:  Why the Oceanium in Basel will not be built

Presenting author:  Fabian Schmidt

Co-authors: Tanja Dietrich, Heidi Rodel & Olivier Pagan

Institute: Zoo Basel

For many years, Basel Zoo was planning to build a new Oceanium close to the city centre. This presentation focuses on the reasons that prevented the construction of a new aquarium.

Despite the fact that the city council supported the construction with 70 % majority, the Swiss political system allows a democratic voting of the people, which disagreed with 54,6 %. The reasons for this result are multifactorial including local reasons, dislikes of the design of the building, worries about the traffic situation and the economic sustainability.

Certainly, the most vocal arguments were from animal right activists regarding « capturing and imprisoning » wild animals, and about ecological sustainability of a putative energy consumption, driven by the current time spirit of the societal change with regard to climate change.

For once, this is not a success story. Therefore, it is important to analyse and learn from the reasons, as this could not only happen in Basel, but anywhere and therefore affects all zoos and aquaria.

Title of presentation:  The power of communication: Sea Otters arrival

Presenting author:  Núria Baylina

Institute: Oceanário de Lisboa

In March 2018, Oceanario de Lisboa received two sea otters from Alaska Sea Life Center. In order to avoid public misinterpretation of the goals of having two new sea-mammals in Oceanário de Lisboa, a communication strategy was planned months ahead the estimated date of arrival with a transparency and clarification goal. This presentation explains the planning, execution and results of this communication strategy.

Title of presentation:  Sharks and Rays Project: an international census of chondrichthyans in human care

Presenting author:  Max Janse

Institute: Burger’s Zoo

As part of the AZA SAFE: (North American Association of Zoos and Aquaria Saving Animals From Extinction) Sharks and rays project, an International Census of Chondrichthyans in human care was recently launched.

This cooperative web-based platform aims to integrate and sustain a global census of every chondrichthyan species in human care. The goals of the project include promoting communication between institutions and support cooperative research, conservation of endangered species and collaborative breeding programs.

More than 20 Regional Coordinators have been recruited to assist the participants, three of them being European RCs.

Regional coordinators:

Public aquaria, research facilities and other organizations participating are established as teams, each having their own coordinator that approves or declines users’ permissions to view or edit their data, always being in control of the data they share.

This user-friendly platform was built so data can be introduced manually or imported from an Excel spreadsheet. Incorporating data from the previous AES International Elasmobranch Census, this project already contains over 240 species from more than 160 institutions representing over 35 countries.

Title of presentation: Introduction of the Shark School in Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden

Presenting author: Lilian Csehó

Institute: Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden

The 153 years old Budapest Zoo is running the biggest project of its history. The new Pannon Park Project includes a new aquarium facility with larger and smaller freshwater and marine systems and a 2,5 million litres shark tank.

An idea was born in 2014: a nursery, where the base animal collection could start to grow, give experience and opportunity to the aquarists and the animals to learn from each other. It was finally opened in 2018. It became a half industrial exhibition where the main aspect was the practicality for easy handling, keeping enough space for the animals, visitors can see behind the scenes. In the tanks (35m3, 110m3, 700m3) six shark species, two guitarfish and rays are living together.

Through positive reinforcement training, animal handling is aimed to be as safe as possible, regular health checks and veterinarian examinations are becoming a daily routine for the whole team.

Title of presentation: From the sea to the plate – Mr.Goodfish : supporting seafood industry professionals

Presenting author: Eloïse Lemaire

Institute: Nausicaa, Centre National de la Mer

Initiated by the World Ocean Network and launched in 2010, Mr.Goodfish is a European programme aiming at raising both public and professional awareness on the need for sustainable seafood consumption.

Mr.Goodfish was initiated by three major aquaria in Europe: Acquario di Genova, Aquarium Finisterrae and Nausicaá.
The programme targets the whole value chain from fishermen, fish farmers and retailers to chefs and school canteens, to disseminate the message to an audience as wide as possible.

Actions and tools target stakeholders of the entire industry: restaurateurs commit to suggesting a minimum of two species recommended by the programme on their menus, while fishmongers commit to selling at least five recommended species on their stalls. Wholesalers, processors, supermarkets are also joining the programme, as a responsible act which contributes to a sustainable management of resources.

Mr.Goodfish provides training sessions, regular follow-ups through questionnaires phone calls, newsletters and dedicated communication tools and events.

Title of presentation: Everything you always wanted to know about Microalgae (but were afraid to ask)

Presenting author: Victória del Pino

Institute: Necton S.A. (EUAC Consulting Support Member)

Microalgae are the backbone of freshwater and marine ecosystems. They thrive in our waters for millions of years, originating from the fusion (endosymbiosis) of an eukaryotic cell and a photosynthetic bacterium.

Evolution “went crazy” and allowed further fusion events, giving rise to the multitude of microalgae species we know nowadays. The most common are now the green algae (which gave origin to land plants), red-algae, diatoms and haptophytes. They are responsible for 45% of global primary production, converting water and inorganic carbon (CO2) to organic carbon and oxygen through photosynthesis. Several metabolic pathways then convert the organic carbon into proteins, lipids and sugars, giving to each kind of microalgae its own nutritional profile. Their richness and abundancy bring microalgae to the base of most aquatic food chains. They are responsible for feeding, directly or indirectly, most aquatic animals, starting from the smallest animals in the zooplankton up to the largest fish. And that is why microalgae are the backbone of freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Session 2 - 14:45 - 15:45 - Chairperson: Núria Baylina​

Title of presentation:  Using the Five Domains in an Aquatic World

Presenting author:  Dr Robert Jones

Institute: The Aquarium Vet 

Animal welfare is increasingly becoming an important factor with regards to how the public view aquariums in 2019 and beyond. The Five Domains of animal welfare (developed by David Mellor) have replaced the Five Freedoms as the hallmark of animal welfare.

The Five Domains are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Environmental
  3. Health
  4. Behaviour
  5. Mental or Affective State

We will discuss how these Five Freedoms can be applied to an aquatic world. 

Title of presentation:  Are Your Fish Legal? An Analysis of the Regulatory and Permitting for Wild Sourced Display Animals out of Florida and the Eastern U.S.

Presenting author:  Forrest Young

Institute: Dynasty Marine Associates, Inc

As an active participant in the marine life fishery to public aquariums for more than 3 decades the complexity of fisheries management, reporting, permitting and compliance has increased substantially.

Many species are newly being evaluated for additional protections at state, national, and international levels using SAL, HMS, ESA, and CITES. Taking an active part in the fishery management process and being a proactive participant in helping to craft intelligent conservation regulations to ensure long term sustainability is essential.

Industries hand in developing best practices for legally and properly collecting and shipping these specimens is discussed. The objective within is to help public aquariums to understand what is necessary to ensure that your collection is legal and that aquariums can continue to source wild caught animals in a legal, sustainable, and ethical way into the future.

Title of presentation: Moskvarium (Moscow) and Aquatica (Kogalym, West Siberia), as an example of large public aquariums in Russia

Presenting author: Andrey Telegin

Institute: Aqua Logo engineering (Ocenarium Moskvarium & OCEANIA Shopping Mall Aquarium)

Aquarism in Russia has a long and interesting history. However, the first modern large public aquarium in our country appeared only 13 years ago. There are nine aquariums with a total water volume of about 1000 m3 or more in Russia now. Four of them were built by Aqua Logo engineering company.

The presentation will detail two of them:

  • The center of oceanography and marine biology “Moskvarium”.
    Opened in 2015; 3,200 m3 of water in the Aquarium Department and total water volume with the Dolphinarium for killer whales – 22,000 m3; number of animals – 13,035 specimens and number of their species – 730.
  • Oceanarium “Aquatica” (Sports and Cultural Complex “Galaktika”), Kogalym.
    Opened in 2016; 3,800 m3 of total water volume; number of animals – 2,000 specimens and number of their species – 150.

Title of presentation:  Why am I Here?  Species Planning at the Zoological Society of London

Presenting author:  Brian Zimmerman

Institute: Zoological Society of London

Approaching its 200-year anniversary with a new strategy the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was offered an opportunity to rethink how we operate and what our function is.  With two zoos and hundreds of animal species in residence, the collection plans have traditionally been the result of subjective opinion based on the interest of zoo directors and curators with often only marginal thought given to the role a species should play in our zoos.  Starting in 2017 the curator team at ZSL began challenging traditional practice and wanted greater transparency, thought and objectivity to species planning at our zoos.  The result of this process was the creation of a database called the “Species Planning Tool” that helps assess and record detailed rationale for the species we keep and to answer the question: “Why am I here?” from the animal’s perspective.

Session 3 - 16:15 - 17:30 - Chairperson: Katy Duke

Title of presentation:  The Voronezh Aquarium.

Presenting author:  Vyacheslav Butsay

Institute: The Voronezh Aquarium

The Voronezh Aquarium is the third large public aquarium in Russia and the only one in the Central Chernozem Region. The total area of the Aquarium is for about 4400 sqm., the total water volume is 1,5 million litres.  

This project is technically complicated as it is carried out in the city remote from the sea shore and in particular from the ocean.

Nonetheless, more than 200 various fish species are kept in there.

The Voronezh Aquarium has a unique collection of animals including such rare species as the sand tiger shark, Humboldt penguins, octopus Dofleini, Japanese spider-crabs, Caribbean green moray and the others.

More than 50 expository objects are displayed to create the nature of the most diverse nooks and crannies of the Planet to help the public discover the beauty and diversity of the world.

Title of presentation: Changes within EUAC support membership

Presenting author:  Stefan inselman


Title of presentation: The role of aquariums information for Ocean conservation

Presentation author: Sander Kozijn

Institute: Species360 / Syddansk Universitet

Data is essential to help the world respond to the current ocean crises. With the exponential increase of data across different disciplines, there is an opportunity to connect and create new knowledge under an integrated vision to conserve marine species. We present a framework and a preliminary assessment of the potential of aquarium’s information together with other ocean databases, legal frameworks, and biological data to help prioritize fish species conservation actions across the world’s oceans.

Title of presentation: What are the options in zoos and aquaria to increase sustainability? A thorough review on the options and the hazards that can set back the booked progress.

Presenting author: Jeffrey de Pauw

Institute: De Jong Marinelife B.V.

Sustainability is a word that is being used everywhere nowadays. The fact is that within every work field the sustainability of their operations should increase. Especially within public aquaria and zoos this should be top priority due to their educational purpose.

We all have various ideas to increase our sustainability with sourcing methods of marinelife, but what more? Solar panels you would think of, but what about for example; The packing material being used? How to increase sustainability without compromising local overseas fisheries? Companywide training on how to be more sustainable, does this have any benefits? Eventually everyone faces difficulties and problems during the process of becoming a more sustainable institution. Which is very normal thinking of the high expectations the public has on our institution, but also the expectations we set for ourselves.

In the end we are all extremely willing to change, but how and at what cost?

Session 4 - 17:45 - 19:00 - Chairperson: Nicole Kube

Title of presentation:  Transports then and now: a new paradigm in marine animals collections

Presenting author:  João Correia

Institute: Flying Sharks

The opening of the Oceanário de Lisboa, where Flying Sharks’ founding staff originated from, involved the collection and transport of animals from literally every corner of the planet to Lisbon, which was a monumental exercise in the development of long-term transport techniques.

These techniques were then refined over two decades, allowing for the collection and transport of species once considered ‘impossible’, such as Scomber sp., Sarda sarda, Mola mola, Naucrates ductor, and an assortment of jellyfish, among multiple others.

Such advancements include the replacement of 12 V systems for 220 V, while ammonia and pH are no longer a concern, thanks to recent developments in quenching and buffering agents.

Additionally, a new paradigm in marine animal transport is presented, whereas buffering agents are used preventively and not correctively, while L.S.S. is designed for long-term maintenance and not just transport conditions. This turned our ‘transport unit’ into a ‘mobile holding station’.

Title of presentation: Our lab to control water quality and animal health : recent advances 

Presenting author: Stephanie Orengo

Institute: Musée océanographique de Monaco

During the last 3 years, the lab of the aquarium has made pretty big progress. We are now able to control water quality on a regular basis on chemical and microbiological parameters. We also implemented several tools to have quick answers on animal health such as haematocrit, blood cells countings and antibiograms.

Last year, among other cases, we used those tools to study the case of a Stegostoma fasciatum having troubles. We finally discover a heart disease, pretty rare, that leaded to its death. We propose to take the opportunity of this presentation to talk about this case.

Title of presentation:  The sea turtle’s odyssey : a new exhibit to enhance awareness and protection

Presenting author:  Olivier Brunel

Institute: Musée océanographique de Monaco

In 2019, the oceanographic museum of Monaco launched a new public area dedicated to marine turtles. Its aim is to present the beauty of those little-known animals, as well as the threats they have to face around the world and especially in the Mediterranean Sea, and the commitment of the Oceanographic Institute to protect them.

After a short visit in the information area, dedicated to explaining the biological basis (life cycle, feeding, migration…), people can discover the outdoor rehabilitation tank which is part of the rescue facilities. The rescue centre itself is not open to the public but can host up to 5 turtles at a time.

This project finally offers a new exhibit but is much more than a new tank, as it really translates the involvement of the Museum to protect the marine environment and to raise people’s awareness on the need to commit with us for our oceans.

Title of presentation: The world’s aquariums key role to help conserve sharks 

Presenting author: Rikke Øgelund Nielsen

Institute: University of Southern Denmark

To provide an overview of the potential of aquarium institutions to serve as sharks assurance populations and to fill knowledge gaps, we explored the level of protection of shark species and trends on exports in the international trade.

We compared the coverage of sharks in aquariums together with the following conservation schemes: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Memorandum of Understanding the Conservation for Migratory Sharks (MoU), United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Barcelona Convention and the IUCN Red List.

Our results show sixty shark species in aquariums, of which 20% of the species are crucial for the support of conservation programs. Furthermore, we fund priority species that are good candidates to be supported by aquariums.

Wednesday, October 16

Session 5 - 09:15 - 09:45 - Chairperson: Aspasia Sterioti

Title of presentation:  Reality checking climate change coral threat and conservation response

Presenting author: Paul Pearce-Kelly

Authors: Paul Pearce-Kelly1 and Max Janse2

Institutes: 1 Zoological Society of London, 2 Burgers Zoo

Colleagues will be all too aware of the increasingly severe global-scale impacts of climate change on coral reefs with back to back bleaching events and a raft of highly interacting stressors. Likewise, the current mitigation policy focus of staying within a 1.5C global average temperature increase is widely considered essential for the functional survival of coral reef ecosystems.

Conservation strategies such as the 50 Reefs Initiative and genetic manipulation are ultimately reliant on a sufficiently viable marine environment for corals to survive and repopulate. Given the stakes, it’s imperative that formal coral threat assessments, including Redlisting, provide robust evaluations for conservation policy to be effective. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

This presentation will summarise a current disconnect between threat reality, formal assessments and conservation policy. It will also summarise response initiatives and suggest how our aquarium/zoo community can realise its tremendous potential for ensuring corals have a viable future.

Title of presentation: An integrated diagnostic approach for coral identification

Presenting author: Paul Pearce-Kelly

Institute: Zoological Society of London

Paul Pearce-Kelly1, Max Janse2, Alex Pearce-Kelly1, Nienke Klerks2, Chris Yesson1, Hannah Jenkins1, Ana Rita da Silva3 and Dalia Conde4

1 Zoological Society of London, 2 Burgers Zoo, 3 University of Southern Denmark 4 Species 360.

To help address the challenge (to non-taxonomists) of identifying corals to species level, aquarium/zoo community and coral taxonomist collaborators have developed an integrated diagnostic approach for optimising identification confidence.

With an initial focus on Scleractinian corals, our approach combines general morphology, fine detail soft tissue and skeletal photographs, expert opinion and genetic analysis.

A pilot study has tested a methodology for creating standardised diagnostic feature photographs for identifying specimens to species level when compared with authoritative identification guides and expert opinion. Genetic analysis provides additional taxonomic insight. A Web-enabled SQL database records specimen information, images, treatments (e.g. genetic analysis) and confidence linked identifications. In addition to being as human friendly as possible, the standardised photography protocol and database are designed to facilitate machine learning for automated, rapid image analysis.

This presentation will summarise improvement rationale, progress to date and engagement opportunities across our community.

Session 6 - 10:15 - 12:30 - Chairperson: Dominique Barthelemy

Title of presentation: New tank of Mediterranean corals at the Oceanográfic of Valencia

Presenting author: Mario Roche

Co-author: Miguel Candelas


In June 2018, a new Mediterranean coral tank was inaugurated at the Oceanográfic aquarium of Valencia. This tank has a volume of 24,000 litres as well as a current design appropriate to the type of invertebrates that inhabit the Mediterranean Sea, especially gorgonians.

Different specimens of Paramuricea clavata, Leptoborgia sarmentosa, Eunicella singularis, as well as the impressive gorgonia Ellisella paraplexauroides can be observed. In addition to gorgonians, we can also observe other types of invertebrates such as Dendrophylia ramea, D. cornigera, Corinactis viridis or the threatened Corallium rubrum.
All the invertebrates present in the tank have arrived from different aquariums, constituting an excellent example of collaboration among them.

Title of presentation: Creating Dosing Solutions for Coral Displays

Presenting author: Hannah Thomas

Institute: Chester Zoo

Since 2016 we have used a dosing system with minimal water changes to manage our coral systems.

We started using pre-made products but quickly realised that we wanted to better understand what we were putting in to our tanks.

We researched historical levels of elements in seawater, pre-industrialisation, and try to match our levels to that standard.

We have devised a system for daily adjustment calculations that can be used by anyone, regardless of their level of knowledge. We have seen significant financial benefits and the growth of the corals has improved.

Title of presentation: Marine biodiversity as You’ve Never Seen It Before! [ABYSS 3D] – [PLANKTON 3D]: New 3D Technologies for Science Outreach

Presenting author: Anne ROGNANT/ Deputy aquarium Curator

Institute: OCEANOPOLIS – Brest

Nearly four billion years ago, life appeared in the ancestral ocean. Since then, over a billion species have evolved on Earth, most now extinct. Current species diversity is estimated at 10 to 30 million species, of which 1.9 million have thus far been described, including 300 000 marine species. Confronted with an environment that is changing faster than ever before, marine species are attempting to adapt… In public aquaria, we must raise our public awareness of the fundamental role of marine species in aquatic ecosystems.

However, it can be difficult to present some of them in aquaria and other centres for science culture or schools, since the capture of certain species and its manipulation under the microscope poses several constraints…

Over twenty 3D models of plankton, from viruses to jellies, and abyssal species were created based on microscope imaging, and discussions with science educators at Océanopolis and scientists.

The [ABYSS 3D] and [PLANKTON 3D] programmes propose novel exhibits using innovative technologies and offers a response to the question: Can new technologies facilitate learning about an object of science, the understanding of a complex message, our visitors’ engagement?

Title of presentation:  Elasmomeeting 2019

Presenting author:  Attila Varga

Institute: Sosto Zoo/ Nyíregyházi Állatpark Nonprofit Kft.

A shark husbandry workshop was held by Sosto Zoo this spring.

The reasons of the workshop were the followings: During the last years the EUAC and EAZA encourage professional education workshops in the aquarium field under the common umbrella of the two organizations. In connection with this last year the EUAC community also stated our goal to support and organize five workshops during the following five years.

In accordance with these ideas the team of Sosto Zoo decided to organize a shark husbandry workshop. We realized the fact that many new aquariums opened or old facilities were renewed in the middle and East European region and most of these institutions keep sharks and rays.

Further preliminary idea was to collect the shark experts from East and West and provide them a three days long forum to discuss their concerns and also provide time to present their cases.

The lectures were divided into theoretical and practical courses those covered most of the interesting fields – from husbandry to anatomy – about this taxonomical group. The workshop was small grouped familiar meeting due to the practical sessions.

From 16 countries in total 50 participants took part on the event. Out of the 6 invited lecturers four arrived from European countries. Further two came from the United States.

With this successfully workshop we the EUAC community could fulfil the first-year plan of our ’five-year’ education plan.

The goal of this presentation to give a short overview about the event and with this encourage you to be the next host!

Title of presentation: Redesign of freshwater tank theming with aquascaping

Presenting author: Guido Westoff

Institute: Tropen-Aquarium Hagenbeck

The largest planted freshwater tank in Germany with 28m³ did have the Aamazon as a theming. After 12 years the concrete artificial root was week in structure and the coating vanished; we had to renew that tank interior. By means of a cooperation with Dennerle Plants and well known aquascapers, the new theming of a southeast Asian river was designed.
The planning, challenges and media attention to this project will be presented with some background information and time lapse films.

Title of presentation:  Live Fish Handle with Care – Moving a Pristis Pristis

Presenting author:  Terese Swartz and Carlos Taurá

Institute:  Universeum AB and Oceanográfic

Universeum received its female sawfish (Pristis pristis) in 2001, at a length of 1,15 meters. A pre-CITES animal and vital for the species within the aquarium world.

At the time of transport, the sawfish measured in at 3,6 meters long. Due to her size and the tank’s construction, we made the decision to capture her with divers in the tank.

After a 59-hour journey, the sawfish arrived at the Oceanográfic.

The animal was sedated and moved in a 5-meter-long transport tank. She was weighed, measured and her blood tested before the release.


Since then, we’ve worked hard in maintaining, a constant feeding schedule, 4-5 times per week, and by the results we can conclude that the animal is adapting very well to the new facility.

In conclusion, a great team, good collaboration, experience and planning are the factors which are needed to move a large sawfish across countries.

Title of presentation:  The mega-move.  How to transport a Manta birostris

Presenting author:  Frank Young

Institute: Dynasty Marine Associates, Inc

Dynasty Marine was contracted to collect and transport a Manta birostris for Nausicaa’s grand re-opening.

Though several attempts at air transportation of this species had been performed in the past, only one was known to be successful.  The first step was to gather information from the previous attempts and to use that as building blocks to create a more efficient and safe way to transport this species in the air.  This resulted in custom transport methods and the design of cutting-edge, large transport containers with built in life support systems. 

This presentation will discuss the process from start to finish and will focus on the advances in mega-fauna transportation learned for our colleagues to implement in their transportations of live animals into the future.  

Title of presentation:  Life of a sand tiger shark

Presenting author:  Attila Varga and Melinda Katalin Kállai

Institute: Sosto Zoo/ Nyíregyházi Állatpark Nonprofit Kft.

In October 2016, the Sóstó Zoo’s team transported an adult male sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) from a Warsaw Zoo as part of an animal exchange. By that time a female of about three years old already lived at Sosto Zoo our goal was to establish a sand tiger shark breeding pair with this move. Preliminary breeding plan was set where temperature program was prepared to model natural habitat conditions, simulating seasonal cycles, in the frame of which weather parameters and food intake were compered. After a long illness in May 2019, the male sand tiger was lost due to acute inflammation caused by a rusty old hook migrating around in the body cavity.

The purpose of our presentation is to summarize the results achieved so far by which we would like to support the breeding of this popular species under human care and encourage the inter institutional movement of sharks under the umbrella of the breeding programs.

Session 7 - 14:30 - 15:45 - Chairperson: Forrest Young

Title of presentation:  Management of genetic overrepresented animals within a captive population. A case study describing the use of anticonception within a group of spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus ocellatus.

Presenting author:  Max Janse

Institute: Royal, Burgers’ Zoo

Captive breeding programmes in chondrichthyans are an important tool to manage genetically healthy captive populations and have increased in number over the past decade within the European Elasmobranch TAG. This type of collaborative species management of endangered species ensures a controlled exchange of individuals between aquaria and relies on captive breeding successes, often resulting in improved husbandry knowledge and a reduction of wild harvests for display purposes. However, breeding success may result in genetically overrepresentation of individuals. This will talk about the breeding success of a group of spotted eagle rays, Aetobatus ocellatus as an example of overrepresentation and the use of anticonception with Deslorelin to overcome this problem.

Title of presentation: Step by step: Juvenile Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei) breeding at Planet Ocean Montpellier

Presenting author: Nicolas Hirel

Institute: Planet Ocean Montpellier

The Spotted ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei, is an attractive but delicate specie displayed in a few aquaria in Europe. Though its general biology is well documented, the aquarium world misses useful information to achieve its husbandry and breeding.

Reporting to the EUAC Ratfish Monitoring program and other aquaria worldwide, only a few witnessed mating, eggs laying and hatchlings in their institutions. In Europe, between 2008 et 2015 less than 10 juveniles were reported in 2 institutions with survival rates comprised between 1 to 10 days.

In 2018, Planet Ocean Montpellier (POM) observed a larger number of eggs laid, inducing in 2019 a greater number of hatch and surviving time of 7 months and more.

This presentation will focus on the Spotted ratfish husbandry at POM, success and fails, including data collected during the first months of rearing its juveniles.

Title of presentation: Does Dory eat her relatives?

Presenting author: Sander van Lopik

Institute: Rotterdam Zoo

Worldwide, herbivorous fishes in aquaria are fed with fish feed which contains high amounts of animal proteins. Moreover, if vegetable proteins are used it usually contains non-marine agricultural products, such as corn, soy, wheat and endive.

As a consequence, the diet of fishes in aquaria deviates drastically from their relatives in nature. Unfortunately, the consequence of this diet mismatch for fish health is practically unknown. Therefore,  Rotterdam Zoo is trying to match a more natural diet for herbivorous fishes in our aquaria by leaving out the fish-proteins and agricultural products. We are experimenting with our own gelatine food using only marine products. These adjustments in our fish diet are a step in the right direction to a more natural diet for herbivorous fishes and furthermore are a good method to avoid the unsure base of fish-proteins and vegetables in current fish meal and feed.

Title of presentation:  Husbandry challenges during adaptation period of two young sea otters, Enhydra lutris kenyoni, at Oceanário de Lisboa

Presenting author:  Hugo Batista

Institute: Oceanário de Lisboa

In March 2018, Oceanário de Lisboa received two young male sea otters from Alaskan Sea Life Center: Odiak, one year old and Kasilof, 8 months old. The animals stayed in the quarantine facilities for one month.

During this period a 24/7 surveillance was performed which allowed a continuous monitoring of their behaviours and interactions. The body temperature was monitored using an internal temperature emitter and an external receptor, allowing to understand if the animals were making the correct temperature regulation according to their daily cycles.

This presentation describes the challenges encountered in the transport and adaptation of these two sea otters to Oceanario de Lisboa facilities.

Session 8 - 16:15 - 17:30 - Chairperson: Max Janse

Title of presentation:  How to get hold of an Arapaima for medical treatment

Presenting author:  Isabel Koch

Institute: Zoologisch-Botanischer Garten Wilhelma

In a big 100 000 l mixed exhibit in our Amazonian house two Arapaima gigas were living for three years together with other fishes, turtles and a male broad-nosed caiman. When one of the Arapaima showed signs of buoyancy problems and did not feed anymore, we were forced to get him out of the water to give the veterinarian a chance to examine and treat him. A very difficult task in this tank. This presentation shows a way how to solve the problem by using electric fishing and also describes the results of the action and the necropsy.

Title of presentation: Adaptation to captivity within ex-situ collections of urodeles: from behavioural to microbial plasticities.

Presenting author: Léa Fieschi-Méric & Marie Bournonville

Institute: Laboratory of Fish and Amphibian Ethology (Liège University) & Aquarium-Museum of Liège

Amphibians are currently the animal class facing the highest risk of extinction, notably because of disease outbreaks. Faced with the urgency of the situation, conservation institutions prioritize ex-situ collections to ensure the persistence of the most endangered species.

Yet, little is known about the effect of captivity on their skin microbiome, an effective barrier against pathogens responsible for chytridiomycosis. We hypothesize that captivity could restructure
salamander skin microbiome and modify their behaviour, thereby weakening their in-situ fitness during reintroduction efforts.
Using two European urodeles, the alpine newt, Ichthyosaura alpestris, and the palmate newt, Lissotriton helveticus, we collected adults in the wild and kept them in captivity for a year, while monitoring the evolution of their behaviour and skin microbiome monthly.

Our results suggested differences in personalities and evolution of the skin-microbiome between sexes and species. Taken together, we hope these results will provide general guidelines for conservation projects for urodeles.

This project received a funding support for in situ conservation projects from the EUAC.

Title of presentation: Savings on costs, energy, water and noise in the Life Support System

Institute: ATO Energysaving

In the life support systems (LSS) of public aquaria, many savings are possible: Energy savings, cost saving, water savings and noise savings.

In the design of aquaria, all kind of “safeties” have been added to LSS equipment choices, securing a minimum of operational conditions. After having started, in many occasions LSS equipment is adjusted to find the better match.

Although these adaptions may have a positive result on energy use, new operational conditions can have a significant negative impact on efficiency and effectivity of the system, resulting in a higher percentage of energy waste, more noise, more maintenance and more backwashes of sand filters.

In this presentation we zoom in on projects in several European public aquaria and will share remarkable results on savings and noise reduction.

Title of presentation:  Biology and Ecology of Undulate Skate (Raja undulata) population in English Channel: first results and examples veterinary input in an elasmobranch population assessment study

Presenting author:  Dr Alexis Lécu, DECZM(ZHM), DVM

Institute: Paris Zoo, MNHN

Classified as endangered by IUCN, and submitted to European fishing regulations and quotas, Undulate Skate (Raja undulata) may show some local patches of local abundance in English Channel, whereas its general distribution area over Atlantic is still showing a global trend of decrease in population. Assessment of this northern population is needed and the first step on this work is to study the distribution, feeding and breeding patterns of the skate in this area, which may be different from the previous southern population assessments.

Usual capture and tagging approach were mixed with veterinary care and exam of animals, including anaesthesia, blood sampling, semen sampling and ultrasound. Input of veterinarian in this field study could increase the number, precision and value of information collected from one procedure.

This presentation will show how the world of captive aquatic animal care can practically help field studies and Elasmobranch Conservation actions.

Title of presentation: Light trap as a non-invasive method for fish and invertebrate catching.

Presenting author: Matteo Murenu1, Flavio Gagliardi2, Ilaria Corrias2, Angela Pira2.

Institute: Univ. degli studi di Cagliari1, Acquario di Cala Gonone (NU), Sardinia, Italy2

Many species of larval fish and invertebrates are phototropic and attracted by a source of light in the night.

Light traps represent a valid help for aquaria collections as they can catch early life stages of common and uncommon fishes and invertebrates, are easily transportable and usable, economically feasible and need a minimum maintenance. Moreover, they can sample marine organisms with minimal damage facilitating acclimatization and subsequent maintenance phases.

In this study we present our results of a collection campaign in the Mediterranean Sea (gulf of Orosei) for the Cala Gonone Aquarium.

Session 9 - 17:45 - 19:00 - Chairperson: Isabel Koch

Title of presentation:  Movement and Transport of Mature Grey Nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus)

Presenting author:  Dr Robert Jones

Institute: The Aquarium Vet 

At the end of 2017 Merlin Entertainments, decided to close the 53-year-old Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Sydney Australia. Engineering reports indicated a rebuild was needed due to structures beyond repair. Home to over 1000 different animals careful planning was required for their relocation.

Six of the fish were 25 to 40-year-old Grey Nurse Shark Aka Sand Tiger Shark (GNS, Carcharias taurus), all in excess of 3.5 metres and 200+ kg. The species is no longer able to be obtained from the wild in accordance with the Australian Department of the Environment Recovery Plan for GNS.      

The movement of the GNS required the development of systems and equipment that would allow the sharks to remain submerged and supported by water through all transfers and avoid traditional capture stress issues. Through careful planning, many long days and nights, the six aging GNS were moved with zero mortalities.

Title of presentation: Kura Kura Project: saving sea turtles in Indonesia

Presenting author: Petr Sramek

Institute: Brno Zoo

Brno Zoo started the project in 2004. The key feature is an education and rehabilitation centre located in Nusa Penida island near Bali. The area was chosen because it is not only a hotspot of illegal sea turtle trade but there is also a demand by numerous local sea turtle centres aiming at tourists that keep animals in often poor conditions.

The centre was granted permission to operate in 2017 and serves as a multi-purpose hub that alleviates human pressure on sea turtles in several ways. Twelve pools, fully equipped operating theatre, education spaces and accommodation for veterinarians form its key parts. One Indonesian veterinarian is a full-time employee while European veterinarians are taking turns there.

Almost fifty animals have been successfully treated on-site plus many more in other centres. Educational programs for locals and students raising awareness about sea turtles and marine habitat, in general, are constantly being provided.

Title of presentation:  Citizen Conservation – building capacities in conservation breeding

Presenting author:  Anton Weissenbacher

Institute: Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Vienna (founding member of CC-Advisory board)

Citizen Conservation (CC) is a joint conservation breeding program of institutional and private breeders, initiated by VdZ (zoo association), DGHT (German Herpetological Society) and Frogs & Friends. The idea: If we want to save a relevant number of threatened species, we’ll have to quickly expand the amount of available space and the number of knowledgeable caretakers. At the same time, public misconceptions about captive breeding cause either Zoos/Aquaria and private Breeders serious challenges both at a societal and a legislative level. CC therefore is designed from the beginning as either a breeding program and a steady campaign.

Taking the example of amphibians as a pilot, CC aims to elaborate the relevant techniques for the program and to prepare the scaling up of the program both geographically and content wise. Especially in the field of freshwater fish, CC offers great potentials to foster urgently needed breeding program capacities.

Title of presentation: EAZA Regional Collection Plan: Towards a One Plan Approach to species conservation

Presentation author: David Aparici

Institute: EAZA

In line with the new EAZA ex situ programme structure, this talk will explore how the EAZA Regional Collection Plan follows the spirit of the One Plan Approach to species conservation and how through the application of the 5-STEP decision making process in the IUCN Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation, Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs) decide which species are recommended to be managed under an EAZA Ex situ Programme (EEP) and what the precise direct, and/or indirect, and/or non-conservation roles of each EEP will be.

EEPs are defined as population management activities that are endorsed by EAZA for species that are managed by EAZA members aiming towards (maintaining) healthy populations of healthy animals within EAZA or beyond. For species that are not considered for active management, the TAG will monitor the population trend.

Title of presentation:  Jellyfish Culture

Presenting author: Ester Alonso

Institute: Loro Parque

In 2014 since we opened the Aquaviva area in Loro Parque, we have been working with different species of jellyfish. Right now, we show 9 different adult species and we are working with at least 17 in ephyra.  We are current collaborating with several universities, research programs and scientific council centres, assisting on ecological projects and the biological health of our oceans. 

The purpose of this presentation is to provide the most up to date information we have regarding the different international jellyfish husbandry exhibited our conclusions about biological cycles, nutrition or technical requirements of these species. We want to share this deep understanding about each aspect of the life cycles of the species we work with.

Thursday, October 17

Session 10 - 10:30 - 12:30 - Chairperson: Pablo Montoto

Elasmobranchs in-situ conservation projects

Presenting author:  Nuno Vasco Rodrigues

Institute: Oceanário de Lisboa

In line with the pronounced increasing focus and investment in marine conservation, Oceanário de Lisboa prioritizes funding for projects that address issues such as biodiversity loss, particularly the research and conservation of endangered species.

The threats currently faced by most elasmobranchs together with their increasingly concerning conservation status, have warranted special attention from Oceanário’s funding strategy. This presentation focuses on some research and conservation projects supported by Oceanário for various species of elasmobranchs, including angel sharks and pelagic sharks, but also eagle and manta rays.

Most of these projects include some state-of-the-art scientific tools such as environmental-DNA and BRUVs, as well as some of the latest techniques including photo-identification and citizen science. 

Title of presentation:  Ex situ co-culturing of the sea urchin, Mespilia globulus and the coral Acropora millepora enhances early post-settlement survivorship. A future potential application for in situ reef restoration and sustainable livelihood development.

Presenting author:  Dr Jamie Craggs

Institute: Horniman Museum and Gardens

Coral reef habitats are declining globally, leading some scientists to suggest human intervention through active coral restoration, particularly utilising sexual recruits, is of increasing importance. However, survival bottlenecks during early ontogeny, partly due to competition with faster growing algal species, are reducing the effective scale of these efforts.

Investigating if micro herbivory can be utilised for ex situ co-culture, we assessed how varying densities of juvenile sea urchins Mespilia globulus, reared alongside the coral Acropora millepora effected survival and growth of coral recruits.

Coral survival is significantly influenced by grazing activity (p<0.001) compared to non-grazing control, as was coral size (p<0.001). Increased urchin density did however have a negative influence on urchin growth due to limited food availability.

In 2020, preliminary work to apply this multi taxa co-culturing to increase production of sexually diverse coral spat for in situ reef restoration practise will commence at the Palau International Coral Research Centre.

Title of presentation:  Development of a breeding sector for aquatic organisms: French aquariums are mobilizing!

Presenting authors :  Dominique Barthelemy (1), Jean-Philippe Catteau (2), Dominique Duché (3), Mathieu Coutant (4)

Institute: 1: Océanopolis / 2: Marineland Antibes / 3: Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée – Paris / 4 : Aquarium La Rochelle

In 2019, the breeding of freshwater fish displayed in aquariums is in most cases controlled. This is not the case for many marine fish and invertebrates. Public aquariums still rely heavily on collecting from the natural environment.

Due to anthropogenic pressure, the degradation of natural ecosystems has become a threat to the possibility of collecting animals in the medium term. A tightening of international regulations has already been noted. At the same time, the awareness of the general public is changing, and will contribute to making it increasingly difficult to collect animals from the natural environment.

Faced with this situation, the French public aquariums members of the UCA (French Union of Aquarium Curators) have decided to pool their efforts to develop the breeding of aquatic organisms within their structures. From the training of aquarists to the sharing of breeding protocols, several actions have been implemented and are already showing positive results.

Title of presentation: Copepod mass culture to enhance ex-situ conservation in partnership between University and public aquarium

Presenting authors: Sami Souissi / Stéphane Hénard

Institutes: Université de Lille / Nausicaá 

At the beginning of the 21st century copepod aquaculture is raising. Cultivated copepods have numerous applications especially in research in ecotoxicology and in aquaculture. They help to increase the number of ornamental species that can be cultivated, and to improve ex-situ conservation protocols.

Nevertheless, the issues attached to the mass production of copepods in a limited space are numerous too. As a result of a partnership between the University of Lille and Nausicaá during the last decade within the framework of the COPEFISH program, a new research section was set up in the aquarium, where several species of copepods are cultivated.

Fish and shrimp larvae produced by the brood stock kept in the aquarium are given these copepods during the critical phase of their development. Recent larval trials, with considered as difficult species such as Chromis viridis, have been promising and will open several perspectives.

Title of presentation:  Mysis Culture

Presenting author: Ester Alonso

Institute: Loro Parque

We are working to improve our hatchery knowledge in our biological collections. Due to the variety of phyto/zooplankton in our aquariums we have more successful breeding results. In Loro Parque we are able to house a stable Mysis culture, which helps us to enrich our Syngnathidae population and enables us to induce breeding. With a very short, easy protocol we can nurture a real (pure) breed Mysis culture.

Title of presentation: Breeding the Thornback Rays (Raya clavata), an overview of four years of animal management.

Presenting author: Michaël Laterveer

Institute: Royal, Burgers’ Zoo

In June 2015 a four-year pilot project ‘Sharks and rays back in the North Sea’ was launched with the objective to recover the North Sea Ecosystems with healthy populations of sharks and rays. One of the aims of the project is to investigate the possibilities of using captive bred Elasmobranch species for reintroducing sharks and rays that are (locally) extirpated in the North Sea.
The Dutch World Wide Fund is executing this project for Nature in cooperation with the Blue Linked leading the breeding programme, the Dutch Angler Association, Dutch Shark Society and North Sea Foundation.

The pilot programme for reintroduction is divided into three phases.
Phase 1: setting up of breeding centre
Phase 2: breeding programme
Phase 3: pilot release programme
The reintroduction of the thornback ray is currently in phase three. The presentation will focus on the life cycle of the Thornback ray and the animal management from hatching the eggs, raising the juveniles, tagging, transport and release of the rays in the North Sea. 

Title of presentation: Baby shark! do do do do do

Presenting author: Kristina Ydesen

Institute: North Sea Oceanarium

After months and months of waiting, worrying and hoping, 10 little tope sharks where born at the North Sea Oceanarium in the spring 2019.

This happy event gave rise to a whole set of new worries about how we could get them to feed, if they should be quarantined, if they would all survive and much more.

Following we have become much wiser on tope shark reproduction and look forward to -hopefully- more shark pups in the future.

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