New Hatchling Harbor exhibit has debuted at the Newport Aquarium

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Springtime brings babies to the Newport Aquarium!

The aquarium’s newest exhibit, Hatchling Harbor, is now home to an array of animals, including the strange scrawled filefish covered in color-changing, maze-like patterns that act as camouflage by reflecting light.

The 25-foot-long tank is the largest in the aquarium, modeled after the corner of the Caribbean that lies between the shore and the reef where young fish find food, shelter, and safety among the coral and seagrass.

Seagrass meadows pepper the middle section of the tank, acting as not only camouflage but as an essential part of the fight against climate change. These seagrasses capture carbon dioxide from the air 35 times faster than rainforests, making them an important part of the ecosystem for both humans and the hatchlings.

The parrotfish is another integral part of the underwater ecosystem, munching and grazing on the rocky floor for algae.

“The fun about these guys is they actually feed on algae,” said Matt Duda, director of sales and marketing at the aquarium. “So they have these little bird-like beaks that they use to scrape the algae off corals and rocks. The rocks here are similar to what you would see in the outcrop of the Caribbean where it used to be coral, but now it’s just more of a rocky area. They grind up all they bite off, and what comes out the other end, is sand. Scientists estimate that about 70% of the white sandy beaches in the Caribbean actually come from these parrotfish.”

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The fish will continue to develop and grow, changing color and size as they mature. Guests are encouraged to visit the exhibit often to see how different these hatchlings look with every visit.

Check out the gallery to see baby needlefish, parrotfish, and many more!

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