As mentioned in the current Letter From the Director, the DWA housed the 22,000-gallon Continental Shelf, ten 2,000-gallon exhibits (Australia, Caribbean, Hawaii, Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Mexico, Micronesia, Palau, Philippines, and Red Sea) and an indoor penguin exhibit when it opened in 1992. Over the years, many of the exhibits have changed names, however, it is interesting to look back and pick out a few signature species from the original regions that are still part of the current collection. In many cases, the original animals have remained as well.
The Southern ray (Dasyatis americana) gracefully maneuvered about in the Continental Shelf. For many years the Southern ray could be seen in the Predator’s exhibit, which was originally the indoor penguin exhibit. Currently you can see this species in the Cenote, swimming among sharks, other rays, sawfish and groupers. “Bubba”, a Goliath grouper (Epinephalus itajara), also shared the Predator exhibit with the Southern ray for many years, and is now in the Cenote.
Over the years, several species of cuttlefish have entertained guests at the DWA. Starting in the Micronesia exhibit in 1992, Pharoah’s cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis) have been displayed throughout the years in several exhibits. For many years we displayed the species in the Japan exhibit and experienced reproductive success for several generations. Currently we are displaying the most ornate member of the cuttlefish family, the Flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) in the micro exhibit of Indonesia, and have experienced reproductive success with this delicate species as well.
Diadem dottybacks (Pseudochromis diadema) and Double saddle butterflyfish (Chaetodon ulietensis) added color to Micronesia and can still be admired as they swim about in the Indonesia and Continental Shelf exhibits.
As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, Napoleon wrasses are a permanent part of the DWA. First displayed in the Australia exhibit, they shared their space with beautiful Tridacna gigas clams. Tangs, such as the earlier Purple (Zebrasoma xanthurum) in the Red Sea and Yellow (Zebrasoma flavescens) in Hawaii are still favorites and can now both be seen in the Continental Shelf exhibit along with several other Red Sea and Hawaiian favorites. Various species of anthias are still present, one being the Stocky anthias (Pseudanthias hypselosoma) that was in the original Philippines exhibit.
One of the most popular “fixtures” at the DWA has been Pogo, the Black-footed penguin (Spheniscus demersus). Pogo arrived in 1991, prior to our opening and has been a favorite of visitors to DWA. Pogo started his career as an extra in the Warner Brothers Motion Picture, Batman Returns. After arriving at DWA, his home was the indoor penguin exhibit. In 1996, he moved to the outdoor penguin exhibit. For several years he traveled to North Park Mall, along with a few other penguins, during the holidays to entertain and educate shoppers. He is now the senior citizen of our penguin colony and can be heard calling to the guests as he welcomes them to the Cape of Good Hope exhibit each day.
The words of the Director in 1992 still very much describe the current mission — “it is of great importance to me that the marine life at The Dallas World Aquarium remain alive and well for all to enjoy.”
For someone who has shared that responsibility for 17 years, it has been an honor being part of that mission.