Discovery World Adds Sea Urchins and Cucumbers to Interactive Touch Tank

Discovery World in Milwaukee, home to the Reiman Aquarium, has recently introduced new species to its Invertebrate Touch Tank!

There are now sea urchins and sea cucumbers in the Invertebrate Touch Tank at Discovery World.

Visitors now have the opportunity to interact with urchins and sea cucumbers, joining the existing slipper lobsters in the tank. These new additions offer a unique hands-on learning experience about marine life.

Here are some fun facts about each creature to share with your kids before you visit:

Sea Urchins

Some sea urchins can live for more than 30 years!
  1. Diverse Family: There are over 950 species of sea urchins, and they can be found in oceans all over the world, from the shallow shores to the deep sea.
  2. Long Lifespan: Some sea urchins can live for more than 30 years.
  3. Ecosystem Engineers: Sea urchins play a crucial role in their ecosystems by controlling the growth of algae on the ocean floor.
  4. Radial Symmetry: Sea urchins are echinoderms, which mean they have unique body structure that exhibits radial symmetry. This means their body parts extend outward from a central point.
  5. Predators: Their predators include sea otters, starfish, and certain species of birds and fish.
  6. Self Defense: To defend themselves, sea urchins have sharp spines that can deter many would-be attackers.
  7. Edible Delicacy: In many parts of the world, particularly Japan, Chile, and the Mediterranean, sea urchins are considered a delicacy.

Sea Cucumbers

Sea cucumbers breathe through their anus!
  1. Varying Sizes: There are about 1,250 known species of sea cucumbers, ranging from 2 centimeters to over 3 meters in length, depending on the species.
  2. Vital Role in the Ocean: Sea cucumbers help recycle nutrients, breaking down detritus and other organic matter, and redistributing nutrients within the ocean floor sediment.
  3. Defense Mechanisms: When threatened, some sea cucumbers can expel their internal organs to confuse predators and then regenerate them later. Others release toxic substances to deter predators.
  4. Respiration: Sea cucumbers breathe through their anus (you read that right!). They take in water through their respiratory trees (a pair of branched tubules) attached to the anus to extract oxygen.
  5. Global Cuisine: Like sea urchins, sea cucumbers are also considered a delicacy in many cultures, especially in Asia, where they are believed to have medicinal properties.
  6. Unique Movement: Sea cucumbers move across the ocean floor using bands of muscle-like structures called tube feet, which are part of their water vascular system.

Once you’re finished at the Touch Tank, here’s a concise guide to the rest of what you and our kids experience at Wisconsin’s largest aquarium:

Caribbean Tank

Venture through the Caribbean Tank, a 65,000-gallon saltwater exhibit that houses an array of species like the Bamboo Shark and Honeycomb Cowfish, among other remarkable animals from the Caribbean seas.

This tank offers a glimpse into the vibrant underwater ecosystems far from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan Tank

The entrance to the Reiman Aquarium features the impressive 80,000-gallon Lake Michigan Tank, which showcases species native to the Great Lakes.

Visitors can see shovelnose sturgeon, northern pike, gar, carp, and more, highlighting the diversity of local freshwater environments.

Touch Tank

The Touch Tank offers an interactive experience with creatures such as sturgeon, stingrays, and bamboo sharks. It’s a chance to learn fascinating facts, like the sturgeon’s potential lifespan of over 100 years, through direct contact with these animals.

Weird & Wild

For those interested in the more unusual aspects of aquatic life, the Weird & Wild exhibit is a must-see. This section features colorful and unique species from around the globe, including poison dart frogs, piranha, pea pufferfish, and axolotls. The exhibit emphasizes the remarkable abilities of these creatures, such as the axolotl’s regenerative powers.

Additional Experiences

Discovery World’s Reiman Aquarium also hosts weekly events such as diver demonstrations and fish feedings, adding to the educational and interactive experiences available for families.

Discovery World Aquarium

Don’t miss the immersive tunnel that provides a unique view of the aquatic environment. Additionally, visitors can experience walking through a submarine and viewing fish through a clear floor.

Echo the Mermaid is a regular feature at Discovery World, providing performances that combine aquatic artistry with environmental education. These performances aim to engage visitors with freshwater ecosystems in a unique and imaginative way.

To find out more about Reiman Aquarium, head to Discovery World’s website.


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