With old age, a copper rockfish developed cataracts, and one of its eyes had to be removed. This half-blind fish is a resident of the Strait of Georgia exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center. The head veterinarian at the Aquarium, Dr. Martin Haulena, decided to perform cosmetic surgery on the fish to give it a fake eye. But why would an aquarium fish need a fake eye?
During the procedure, the Aquarium recorded some footage, and Dr. Haulena explains how being blind on one side was a liability for the fish. The other fish in the aquarium would perceive the missing eye as a vulnerability and bully and attack this half-blind fish. The survival of the fish depended on the eye, hence, the Aquarium authorities decided to give it a prosthetic one.
Dr. Haulena consulted with Dr. Lesanna Lahner, the head veterinarian of Seattle Aquarium, and together they put in the fake eye on the fish. The vets used nylon sutures and titanium clips to sew the fake eye to the bone above the half-blind fish’s eye socket.
Once back from under the influence of the anesthetic, the half-blind fish merrily went about its business.
In an interview with Metro News, Dr. Lahner said:
“It’s doing well. Since it’s had the prosthetic eye, it’s been out and about and acting more like a normal rockfish.”
But our Vancouver Aquarium rockfish is not the only fish around with a prosthetic eye. Another yellowtail rockfish went through the same procedure to get a fake eye. It will soon return to its residence at the Vancouver International Airport. We wish both the fishes a speedy recovery and a healthy life!
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Image credit: Vancouver Aquarium