Raising Baby Jellyfish: Behind the Scenes In the Jellyfish Nursery

The anticipation is building around Newport Aquarium’s newest exhibit, The Ring of Fire, set to open March 9, 2018. The exhibit features the Giant Pacific Octopus, Japanese Spider Crabs and Moon Jellyfish. We recently sat down with Mark Dvornak, General Curator at Newport Aquarium, whose team of biologists has been hard at work preparing for the landing of our Moon Jellyfish.

“We are always trying to give our guests the opportunity to see animals from a new perspective, one that promotes conservation,” said Dvornak. “We want our guests to come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of all the animals on exhibit.”

Mark Dvornak

“We are always trying to give our guests the opportunity to see animals from a new perspective, one that promotes conservation,” said Mark Dvornak, General Curator at Newport Aquarium.

Dvornak described a two-pronged approach to developing the new exhibit. Teams of designers, engineers and biologists have been busy constructing the new gallery. At the same time, the biologists are also preparing a Moon Jellyfish nursery, which will be available for viewing on our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.

“One of the challenges of acquiring jellyfish species for an exhibit is the constant change in numbers. Some years it is can be very difficult to source them,” said Dvornak. “So, in order to remove that unknown risk factor, we wanted to follow a sustainable approach by raising our own jellyfish.”

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We caught up with one of the main biologists in charge of the Moon Jellyfish nursery. Ty Jobson, our Moon Jelly “guru,” helped build the nursery, which consists of specialized tanks called kreisels for the jellyfish.

What is a kreisel?

“A kreisel is a tank specifically designed to hold jellyfish. Jellyfish move with the ocean currents, so the purpose of this design is to simulate that drifting, natural behavior that jellyfish have,” said Jobson.

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The nursery consists of a multistage set-up, featuring the Moon Jellyfish in their five stages of growth: planula, polyp, strobila, ephyra and medusa. Guests will have the chance to explore the Moon Jelly life cycle from larva to adult jellyfish on our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.

“With the kreisel design, you’re trying to alleviate any edges that the jellyfish might get stuck in and also create that curve that helps water flow in a circular motion so that the jellyfish can drift.”

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Jellyfish “guru,” Ty Jobson, pauses to admire the moon jellyfish. He says they’re “almost alien, like tiny flying saucers.”

“Guests are going to have a rare opportunity to see our Moon Jellyfish through all of their life stages,” said Jobson.  “The amount of space required to display the different life stages is big, that’s why the behind the scenes tour is a great opportunity.”

Guests can see our Moon Jellyfish along with our Giant Pacific Octopus and Japanese Spider Crabs and a variety of other animals from the Ring of Fire on March 9, 2018! Stay tuned for a special edition Takeover Tuesday with Ty Jobson. To learn more, visit us at NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-3474.

Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Ring of Fire

The team at Newport Aquarium is counting down the days to the launch of the newest exhibit – Ring of Fire, opening soon in March 2018. The exhibit provides guests a chance to experience the animals and amazing stories of the Ring of Fire, one of the most seismically active areas in the world and home to some fascinating animals including the Giant Pacific Octopus, Moon Jellyfish and more.

We recently sat down with Jeff Gibula, Zoological Operations & Exhibit Design Manager at Newport Aquarium, who is busy coordinating the construction of the habitat for the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Did you know? Instead of bringing in construction crews, biologists at the aquarium are the ones influencing the design and constructing the new exhibit, the benefits of which are far reaching.

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“Crafting exhibits is a fantastic artistic outlet for the team,” said Gibula. “Our team is very talented and jam packed with various skill sets, we share this knowledge with each other and teach new skills to develop and expand their tool belts.”

One of the most special aspects of the new exhibit is guests will feel like they are in the habitat of the Giant Pacific Octopus with the rock work spilling out from the exhibit and while exploring the rocky Octopus Den. So far, biologists have spent over 170 hours packing cement for the space surrounding the GPO.

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“Our guests frequently ask to see an octopus on display so we’re pleased to be adding this special animal,” said Gibula. “Octopi are nocturnal, however, and sort of shy, so featuring them in a big exhibit can be difficult. That is why the rock work and very special lighting become so important.”

The design consists of several walls of volcanic, basalt-like rock and fossils, giving guests the look and feel of actually being underwater inside an Octopus’s den. In addition, the viewing windows and push-and-play components have all been placed at a child-suitable height, increasing guest interaction.

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Gibula looks at the rock work in the Octo Den.

“Our mission is to bring families closer together,” said Gibula. “We make mom and dad the hero by providing information close-by, so they can guide their children through this fun, entertaining and educational experience.”

Stay tuned to learn more about the construction, features and animals of the new Ring of Fire exhibit coming soon! To learn more, visit us at NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-3474.

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NEW Ring of Fire Exhibit Coming to Newport Aquarium in March

NEWPORT, Ky.Ring of Fire, an all-new immersive exhibit will open this spring. The exhibit will highlight the mysterious creatures that make their home along The Ring of Fire where towering volcanoes and deep ocean trenches line the Pacific Ocean rim.

Guests will explore the new space filled with some of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean, the Giant Pacific Octopus, Moon Jellyfish and Japanese Spider Crabs. They will discover their amazing shape-shifting, color-changing, exoskeleton-shedding behaviors that all take place in this constantly changing ecosystem, where fire meets water.

“The ecology and the biology around the Ring of Fire is one of the most intriguing elements of the oceans,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium Executive Director. “It’s fascinating how awesome Mother Nature and the ocean are to have animals that thrive in that turbulent environment.”

The new exhibit will be unlike any that has come before, complete with unique light and sound effects. Inspired by the volcanoes and earthquakes that define the Ring of Fire, guests will experience a periodic display of glowing light and rumbling sound. The fun show element is a reminder for guests of the churning seismic activity that created the rippling sea floor, caves and other rock formations where amazing creatures like the Giant Pacific Octopus live.

Ring of Fire will feature three zones within the space where guests can explore each specific species:

Giant Pacific Octopus: After witnessing the unusual characteristics of the Giant Pacific Octopus, like their ability to camouflage and change shape, guests will get to explore the Octopus Den. An arched rock portal invites guests into this cave-like new space never before accessible to the public. There, they will learn more about this highly intelligent species through videos and interactives.

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Moon Jellyfish: An all-new custom built display of Moon Jellyfish will showcase hundreds of the animals as they float and flutter. The picture window display starts just inches off the ground so both little kids and grownups can take in the mesmerizing view.

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Japanese Spider Crabs: The spider crabs will be featured in a cylindrical tank where guests can watch them explore their surroundings with a 360-degree view. Wall graphics showing the full size of the species will serve as a fun photo op next to a man-size crab as they can reach up to 12 feet claw to claw in the wild.

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Annual Pass Deal:
From November 1 to December 31, Newport Aquarium is offering Annual Passes on a “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” sale. Annual Passes are valid for one year from the date of purchase, so guests can use them now to experience Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa and into next year, including a VIP Passholder-only preview party for the opening of Ring of Fire.

Ring of Fire Buy 3 Get 1 Free

The new exhibit will be open by Spring Break, so the first guests will be able to explore the Ring of Fire in March 2018. To learn more about The Ring of Fire exhibit and the animals, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

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 Newport Aquarium, named one of the top 10 U.S. aquariums in 2017 by USA Today’s 10Best.com, one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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