New weedy sea dragons, rare albino catfish take center stage in Newport Aquarium event

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Written by WCPO’s Felicia Jordan

The Newport Aquarium announced a new underwater scavenger hunt that, beginning Thursday, will introduce explorers to new inhabitants of the aquarium: weedy sea dragons and a rare albino catfish.

The albino channel catfish lives in Gator Alley, alongside its fellow all-white companions — Snowball and Snowflake, both white American alligators. The catfish was born at the aquarium, to two parents who gave staff no indication they carried the trait to produce such a rare offspring, according to a press release from Newport Aquarium.

New residents, weedy sea dragons, have recently moved in to the aquarium’s Seahorses: Unbridled Fun gallery. Native to waters off south and east Australia, the weedy sea dragon is related to seahorses. They are considered a “near threatened species,” which means they are likely to become vulnerable in the future, according to National Geographic.

The weedy sea dragons are also known for their elaborate dance during courtship, according to Newport Aquarium.

In the scavenger hunt that will lead guests to these new animals, participants can search the exhibits for hidden globes which contain letters. Each letter reveals a secret phrase hunters can use to enter for a chance to win four gold annual memberships to the aquarium and a $100 Skyline gift card.

The aquarium also announced its launch of a newly re-structured membership program that allows guests to choose from three tiers of different benefits, according to a press release from Newport Aquarium.

In November, the Newport Aquarium welcomed three new sand tiger sharks to the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. Native to shallow bays and inshore tropical waters, they can also sometimes be found off the coast of the Eastern United States, the aquarium said in a press release. Sand sharks are considered a vulnerable species worldwide and are critically endangered in some parts of the world.

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