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Ask the Aquarist… with Lauren

March 23, 2021

We LOVE getting asked questions at Blue Reef Aquarium and our team of ocean oracles are always happy to answer. This week, we’re joined by Lauren. Have you got a question about a Quillfish? Got a porpoise poser? Whatever you want to ask, just pop an email over to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer!

Here are the latest things people are asking…


I was walking my dog near Folkestone beach and came across a bird, but I’m not sure if it was a penguin. Here’s a video I took of it. There were a few people looking and trying to contact a vet as it might have been injured but it looked ok to me

Nick, Dover

Although it does look a bit like a penguin, it’s far more likely to be a guillemot and doesn’t look to be in any distress. Unless an animal is clearly in distress you should generally just leave it alone. A very lost penguin could potentially end up in this country but it would be such a long journey. Having said that, we’ve had a walrus turn up in the UK recently so its not outside the realms of possibility. We think the walrus fell asleep on an iceberg and woke up here. It’s now in Wales!

I saw you struggling to catch fish on a Youtube video. Which fish were the hardest to catch?

– Megan, 8

Rob had a real challenge trying to catch our Black Tip Sharks – but for me it was definitely the Triggerfish. Triggerfish have a spike on top of their heads which they can raise and lower. They would swim into the cavities in the coral and then use the spike to stop us moving them out. It’s something they do in the wild to avoid predators but it made it very difficult for us too. You have to be very careful with Triggerfish too because they bite! For anyone who hasn’t seen us trying to catch the fish from the Ocean Tank, you can follow it all on our new webisode series, A Fishy Business, here.

A Triggerfish

How do I become an Aquarist?

– Kim, 27 and a half

You generally need to do some kind of animal related science degree. The best way to get into the industry is to do as much volunteering as possible. You could do this at a public aquarium or perhaps at an animal sanctuary. I did a zoology degree at Reading Uni in 2010 and then volunteered with some research projects in South Africa. Then I worked in a small aquarium while I was still in South Africa, researching Great White sharks, Humpback Whales and Cape Fur Seals. I started at Blue Reef in 2015 and I haven’t looked back since!

How many species of fish are there at the Blue Reef ?

– Jasmine, 6

I think there’s about 250 species and over 3500 animals in total last time we counted. This includes 16 different species of reptiles and amphibians. Not a lot of aquariums have got reptiles so we’ve very lucky indeed. Hopefully we can get back to running our animal handling sessions very soon too!

What sort of teeth does a shark have?

– Xander, 14

“Sharks have triangular teeth that are serrated on one side (like a steak knife). These are arranged in rows, depending on the species there can be up to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw, with anywhere up to 300 teeth in total. Sharks quite often break or loose teeth. The rows of teeth are designed to be able to constantly replace the ones at the front, like a conveyor belt, when one is broken or lost”


Enjoying the Blue Reef Blog? Come visit in real life!

We are home to over 3500 exotic animals from around the world and 250+ species. Located in the heart of Hastings Old Town, we’re open 7 days a week and everything is indoors so we’re a perfect place to visit, whatever the weather!