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TODAY   |  May 22, 2013

Meet marine creatures from Shedd Aquarium

George Parsons of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium brings some of the famed aquarium’s residents to meet Natalie and Willie, including moon jellies, a baby blue spotted ray, and a hellbender.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> aquarium. it is the most popular aquarium in the u.s. for the sixth year in a row, as voted by people. and today, a little bit of that aquarium actually came to us. and we have with us george parsons , the senior director of fishes at the shedd . so let's start here, this is a blue spotted ray. this is actually a little guy.

>> it's a newborn, just born about a month ago. it's not one of our -- part of our ray exhibit, but it is one of the shedd 's breeding programs that we have at the aquarium.

>> they're actually part of the shark family, is that right?

>> that's right. so sharks, rays, and their cousins like guitar fish and saw fish are all cartilages nous fish, so they don't have any bones in their body, which makes them a lot lighter. so they don't have to worry about sinking all the time. i brought a jaw with me from a stingray. so you can see the cartilage there, and they're just like shark jaws , but instead of biting teeth, stingrays, their favorite food is clams and lobster and shrimp and things, so they have a plate that just gently rolls.

>> very cool.

>> you say this is probably your most popular exhibit right now, where you can touch and feel the stingrays at shedd .

>> we just opened our 20,000 gallon outdoor pool, first time we did an outdoor exhibit. and folks can come by and touch 40 rays that swim by and it's a really great experience.

>> just don't want to touch the serrated edge here, the barb.

>> i also brought with me a barb from a much larger ray than this little guy here. it's actually serrated on the sides here. and you can see the barb on this one is about halfway down his tail.

>> is it a poisonous sting there.

>> right, exactly. when they feel threatened, they'll throw their tail up a little bit and thrash around a little bit.

>> let's move to our second tank. these are the jelly fish .

>> they're not jelly fish technically, right?

>> they're not true fish, that's why we changed the names like sea stars and star fish are the same thing. but these are called moon jellies, from the northeast coast, all the way up to maine, as well as west coast california and oregon and washington.

>> and they sting.

>> they do.

>> so they have stinging tentacles which are located on the very edge of their belt and they use those to sting the prey that they might be able to eat.

>> if you get stung by one of these, how poisonous is that?

>> one of these -- they have varying degrees of stinging capabilities. so moon jellies are really low on the list. they're really hardly -- they're more like a bee sting .

>> george, there's a guy trying to get out of this tank over here.

>> a little concerned about.

>> this is the hellbender. how did he get that name?

>> it's a pretty -- if i do dare say, ugly animal, so i think that's why --

>> no offense.

>> sorry.

>> but that's where he gets his name from, his striking appearance. a lot of the early settlers came to this great lake animal, so it's found through the great lax region, and they came across these things and just said, it looks like they're from hell. so i think that's where they got its name, but it's a really -- it's the largest north american americanal salamander here in the united states . would you like to try to --

>> actually, we're out of time, george! thank you. how --

>> from the great shedd aquarium . thanks so much.

>> i want to say thanks, and just a shout-out to our friends at the oklahoma city zoo .

>> appreciate that very much. thank