Vertebrates have a lot of things in common, like for example, red-colored blood. That’s because vertebrate blood usually contains hemoglobin, the stuff that makes blood the color we know it, aside from carrying oxygen through the body. In this case, the ocellated icefish remains quite unique, as the Antarctic dweller is the only vertebrate in the world with transparent blood.
Before you can say “cool!” – and they are, quite literally – you can actually go out and see one, as the Tokyo Sea Life park is the only aquarium in the world to have ever acquired one alive. Transporting the icefish, you see, is a bit of a hassle, as these South Pole swimmers are used to water very near freezing temperatures. Naoaki Kawahara, a fish keeper at Tokyo Sea Life Park, recalls that the plan to display the unique fish went forward when they learned that learned Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd.’s krill boats occasionally catch the fish alive on their trips to the Antarctic Ocean. Of course, there was the matter of transporting them all the way from beyond the southern tip of Chile, across the Pacific, and into Japan. Only four of the 13 icefish that Nippon Suisan caught made it alive to Japan, and are now being displayed in the Tokyo aquarium.
Kawahara, born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, remains fascinated with undersea life, and says that this is what his goal in life is – to show people the amazing kinds of life underwater. He studied marine science at a university in Florida and has worked at aquariums in Hawaii and Atlanta, before taking his current Tokyo job in 2011. He says that most people see aquariums just as a place to keep fish in. “I want to tell them how and where various fish live and how we have collected them,” he explains. “I want children to see many kinds of living organisms and be amazed at them,” Kawahara added.
[via Kyodo News]