Environment | Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Video: How Aquariums Get Their Critters

Ecotrope | Feb. 22, 2013 8:15 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 22, 2013 12:04 p.m.

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How do aquariums get their critters?

The question is looming large today, following the arrest of Portland Aquarium co-owner Ammon Covino.

Covino was arrested this week on charges of illegally harvesting marine animals, The Oregonian reports.

Demand for marine life to display in aquariums createds an estimated $1 billion illegal aquarium trade globally.

But there are ways for aquariums to acquire their critters legally, as the Oregon Field Guide episode below explains.

Divers for the Oregon Coast Aquarium get a limited number of state permits for species that are neither overfished nor endangered. They take small samples from a variety of places to avoid damaging the marine environment.

Sometimes, they collect species that don’t end up surviving in captivity, as with the mola mola captured in the Field Guide episode. But aquarium advocates say the numbers of animals they collect are extremely small compared with what is harvested for food fish, adn that the animals generally live longer in captivity than they do in the wild.

Watch Diving for Science on PBS. See more from Oregon Field Guide.

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