2015-05-28 / Nature

Sea Creatures at Save The Bay

By Jack Kelly


A common octopus rescued from a crab pot in Newport Harbor was only two inches long and now measures two feet across. (Photos by Jack Kelly) A common octopus rescued from a crab pot in Newport Harbor was only two inches long and now measures two feet across. (Photos by Jack Kelly) The Save The Bay Aquarium and Exploration Center, located at Newport’s Easton’s Beach, has added a shocking specimen to its ever growing inventory of sea creatures from local waters. According to Aquarist Adam Kovarsky, “We recently received a very unique fish known as a northern stargazer from biologists at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. It was netted during a RIDEM monthly trawl of Rhode Island Sound. It is the first one I’ve ever seen, and we are happy to add it to our collection of marine animals.”

The northern stargazer is an ambush predator that buries itself along the ocean bottom at depths of 120 to 150 feet. It has a flat blackish brown body that can reach a length of 22 inches and is covered with white spots. The stargazer’s name derives from its eyes that look straight up. Its large head contains strong jaws and sharp teeth for devouring prey, usually smaller fish and other marine organisms that have the misfortune of happening by its hidden position. This unattractive fish is a denizen of coastal waters stretching from New England to northern Florida.


Japanese shore crab is a highly invasive sea creature. Japanese shore crab is a highly invasive sea creature. This remarkable creature produces an electric shock from an organ known as an orbitae. Located between its eyes, the fish uses it to stun prey or defend itself against larger predators. Unsuspecting fishermen have reported being shocked by this unusual catch while retrieving their hooks or removing fish from their nets. “This critter is a prime example of the many mysteries that exist in the ocean and Narragansett Bay, and we hope folks will come down and see what the aquarium has to offer,” Kovarsky said.


This northern stargazer is about a foot long, but the species can grow to 22 inches. This northern stargazer is about a foot long, but the species can grow to 22 inches. One specimen that has thrived and grown is a common octopus that first took up residence at the aquarium about eight months ago. A local shell fisherman, Captain Grampy Braman, rescued the baby octopus from one of his crab pots and donated it to Save The Bay. Only two inches long at the time, the octopus has grown exponentially through proper care and nurturing and its tentacles are now almost two feet across!

The aquarium also boasts a diverse collection of awe-inspiring tropical fish that were collected from Narragansett Bay and local coastal waters during previous summers and features many other breathtaking displays. There is even a large tank where visitors can pet sharks!

The center is now operating on its summer schedule and is open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit savebay.org or call 401-272-3540.

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