Bring your family to our spectacularly spooky Green Halloween celebration! Halloween in Corpus Christi gets an earth-friendly twist as we host our annual Green Halloween party. Bring your family to enjoy a safe, fun, and educational afternoon of Halloween activities. The day’s activities will include Halloween-themed animal enrichment sessions, a spooky dive show, a costume contest with prizes, arts, and crafts, trick-or-treating, and more activities throughout the Aquarium.
Get into the Halloween spirit at the Texas State Aquarium!
Join us for SPOOKTACULAR fun for the whole family as we celebrate our 3rd annual Green Halloween event on Saturday, October 31st from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.! Bring your family to enjoy a spooky afternoon full of safe, fun, and educational Halloween activities. Green Halloween will be complete with all the things you usually associate with Halloween – decorations, costumes, trick-or-treating, and Halloween music – along with the kinds of sights and experiences you can only find at the Texas State Aquarium.
You and your family can enjoy:
- Trick-or-Treat Stations (all natural candy!)
- Special Animal Encounters
- Spooky Dive Show
- Halloween Costume Contest
- Eco-Friendly Arts & Crafts
- Face Painting
- Plastic Bag Swap
Top Five Creepiest Creatures
Here at the Aquarium, we have creepy, crawly, and spooky creatures of all shapes, sizes, and species. In honor of Halloween this Saturday, we made a definitive list of our official creepiest critters – tell us what you think, then be sure to come visit Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. for our third annual Green Halloween where you can SEE them in person!
5. Brutus, Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eyes as big as half dollars and as yellow-orange as a harvest moon stare straight into yours, the intense gaze of the apex predator creeping into your soul…or at least that’s how some may feel. The long look a Eurasian Eagle Owl can give you is not one you’ll soon forget. These owls are native to Europe and Asia, and are among the biggest in the entire world – they can reportedly boast a six-and-a-half-foot wingspan! Within this impressive wingspan are serrated (like the teeth on a knife) wing feathers that enable the owl to glide almost silently through the night, stalking its prey – unbeknownst – from the sky. Eurasian Eagle Owls hunt using their silent flight, keen eyesight, and impeccable hearing. Brown says that like other species of owl, eagle owls have facial disks, or groups of feathers around their ears, that actually direct sounds toward their ears. Owls can raise these feathers slightly when on the hunt, enabling them to hear the rustle of a mouse in the grass, the flapping of feathers in the night, or the slithering of a snake in a tree branch. These sounds give away the location of prey animals, making it easy for these owls to swiftly swoop in to catch a meal – and their pointed, powerful talons can exert 500 pounds of PSI (pressure per inch)! Compared to the human hand’s 30 lbs of PSI, that’s scarily strong. The scariest thing about this creature, however, is its history. During the first half of the 20thcentury, Eurasian Eagle Owl numbers declined radically as humans over-hunted and nearly poisoned the whole population. Local European governments began increasing protective measures regarding the owls, and they are now back to a healthier number, though not as populous as they once were. TSA’s resident Eurasian Eagle Owl, Brutus, will be one featured creature you can meet at Green Halloween this Saturday!
This invasive species not only looks scary, with its tiger-striped coloring and venomous spines, but the fact that it has been introduced into nonnative habitats where it has no natural predators is truly terrifying. Thought to have been dumped by hobby aquarists into Florida waters in the mid to late 80s, lionfish have spread like a disease and can now be found as far south as South America. The problem lies in that they feed on coral reef fish and similar coral-supporting species. With no natural predators, their numbers are increasing too rapidly to replenish the species they feed on. Scientists have been keeping tabs on the alien fish and trying to track how their influence is affecting marine ecosystems and it comes as no surprise that the end results don’t look good. Fortunately, many U.S. states encourage lionfish hunting and ridding them of your local waters. An added bonus: If you are well versed in cooking venomous fish, rejoice, because lionfish are considered to be quite tasty!
3. Julius Squeezer, Red-tailed Boa Constrictor
One of the most storied and legendary creepy critters to ever slither is the snake! Feel squeamish? You’re so not alone. From their cold, scaly skin, to their forked tongues and tendency to eat rodents in one gulp, it’s no wonder these reptiles have secured legendary creep out status. Boa Constrictors are scary in part due to their large size and the way in which they sometimes kill prey – by coiling around it and squeezing so tight as to suffocate it. However, more often, they will strike their prey first, and then coil around it, causing it to die by cardiac arrest. Their jaws are lined with small, hooked teeth perfect for grabbing and holding prey while they squeeze around it. Very large, strong boas can cause spinal fracture due to the huge of amounts of pressure they can apply to prey. Boas will eat almost anything they can catch, be it birds, rabbits, monkeys – even wild pigs, their jaws stretch extremely wide, enabling them to swallow large prey whole. Being native to the warm, tropical climes of North, Central, and South America, boas like to dwell in humid places and partially enclosed spaces like hollow logs; news stories depicting an elderly couple in Florida who discovered a slithery surprise in their garage one day are not at all uncommon. Squeezer Slither
2. Great White Shark
With row upon row of razor sharp serrated teeth designed to shred and rip through flesh, along with the fact that they can grow to be 20 feet in length and weigh around 5,000 pounds, it’s no wonder many humans have a fear of the great white shark. While pop culture and movies like JAWS and Sharknado do nothing to dispel these fears, the fact remains that the great white shark is a scarily effective predator. Using the countershading of its body, its ability to pinpoint prey, and super speedy swimming skills, the great white was born to be an apex predator. Unfortunately, these attributes don’t stop it from becoming bycatch in the unsustainable fishing trade, or finned for soup in Asia. Much is still unknown about these misunderstood creatures, such as their mating and breeding habits, and their migratory patterns. Scientists like those from our own Harte Research Institute and members of OCEARCH, a research and expedition team who tag sharks and other apex predators around the world. The Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Saving Sharks, incorporates research from OCEARCH and HRI regarding shark conservation, because the scariest thing about great whites is how quickly they’re disappearing from our world’s oceans.
And, finally, drumroll please: the most terrifying, horrific, scream-inducing, bloodcurdling animal out there? Go take a look in the mirror. That’s right, it’s the human being. Though it’s the most intelligent creature in the world, this animal has a penchant for overpopulating, overusing (and abusing) the earth’s natural resources, and even littering the only home they have. They’re not all bad, though. They’ve created cures for diseases, they have extremely advanced technology, and many are humanitarians who try and help other animals and causes they find deserving. If more of them begin to treat the earth and their fellow animals with more respect, they’ll definitely take a dive down the creepiest creature list, but until then; they’ve got some work to do.
Trick-or-treating, the hallmark sugar haul of Halloween, is a favorite aspect of the holiday for costumed kids everywhere. Dumping out the plastic pumpkin at the end of the night to inventory Reeses and M&Ms, Snickers bars, Tootsie Roll Pops and the like is a definite highlight of the hallowed night (and for weeks after). At the Texas State Aquarium, we hope to impart this same excitement with our Halloween candy, but with a green twist.
In the animal world, the manufacturing of candy and similar food and even household items like cosmetics and cleaning products can have big repercussions. Palm oil, a product used to make all of those products and more, is grown and harvested in plantations – unsustainably and largely unchecked – around the world.
The oil palm trees produce is extremely versatile, making it a highly demanded commodity. Unfortunately, it only grows in the tropics, where its cultivation can have disastrous impacts on people and the environment. To compound the problem, palm oil plantations are expanding more rapidly than almost any other agricultural product. Much of this expansion is taking place in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. In fact, in 2000, those two countries accounted for just over half of the world’s total plantation area, then 9.7 million hectares. What else are Malaysia and Indonesia home to? The Asian elephant, tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, and the orangutan, all of which are highly endangered animals.
Palm oil is harvested via large scale deforestation, pushing many of these species and more ever closer to extinction. In addition to deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change, often indigenous people, plants, and animals are abused in the world palm oil trade.
How can you help? Pay attention to what products use palm oil and even consider making a few swaps for those products that don’t. A few simple lifestyle changes for your family could mean big changes to animals affected in the wild.
Take for instance Halloween candy; at the Aquarium we choose to serve our guests candy produced by Yowie and the Natural Candy Store, two companies that make organic, GMO-free, gluten free, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance Certified foods. The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Products bearing the seal (a little green frog) originate on or contain ingredients sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or forests. These farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.
Not only do these organizations help cut down on the palm oil production, they are also simply healthier. With no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), trans fats (artificial additives that make food more solid), or gluten (found in many grains), you can feel good about your children enjoying candy and chocolate that is natural, made sustainably, and best of all – green!
This October 31, make your Halloween green in every way and be sure to join us for our third annual Green Halloween event, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Texas State Aquarium!
Creepy Critter #2: Goliath Bird-Eating Spider
The name almost says it all, right? Wrong – it’s a good indicator and largely what you’d expect, but this Amazonian arachnid is even creepier than what you’d imagine in your nightmares!
This “new world” tarantula is (arguably) the world’s largest spider (measuring by its legspan and mass), growing to have an 11-inch legspan and weigh over 6 ounces. That’s as big as a dinner plate!
At a size like that, you’d expect this seriously spooky spider to use its inch-long fangs to rip its prey to shreds, right? Well it does something even creepier. The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider sinks its fangs into its victims – usually insects, frogs, or mice – then injects venomous juices into them, turning the animal’s insides into mush that the spider then slurps out.
Don’t let that make you think its bite is safe, because that’s not the case. “You absolutely still don’t want to be bitten by one of them,” says TSA Aquarist Ryan Drum. “A bite from one will induce nausea, cause severe sweating and light-headedness, not to mention hurt really badly.”
…And we haven’t even gotten to its defensive mechanism yet.
This species of spider is especially known for its highly developed and highly effective defensive move called “urticating.” When threatened, the spider will release hair-like bristles from its body, enveloping the perceived threat in a cloud of tiny, almost invisible hairs that are extremely irritating to skin, and can cause real problems if they get into delicate, sensitive mucous membranes around the eyes or mouth, explains Drum.
“Another thing that many will find creepy is that fact that females can lay anywhere from 100 to 200 eggs at a time and, like female Praying Mantises, also sometimes eat the males,” he says.
TSA’s resident Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, Debbie Hairy, will be on display in our Amazon exhibit – come see her tomorrow at Green Halloween!
Creepy Critter #3: Sand Tiger Shark
Dun, dun. Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun. DUN, DUN, DUN, DUN, DUUUUN! Though no Great White, if seeing the protrusive teeth of a Sand Tiger Shark doesn’t start the JAWS theme song playing in your head, something is wrong.
These decidedly ferocious-looking beasts boast a mouthful of terrifying teeth that are even visible when their mouths are shut. They can go through thousands of teeth in a lifetime, losing up to hundreds per year. And even with all those teeth, this predator still swallows its food whole!
Most Sand Tiger Sharks range in size from 6.5 up to 10.5 feet and they can weigh anywhere from 200 lbs to 350 lbs. And despite their intimidating size, they eat little, and can go for extensive periods without feeding.
The stealth hunter gets its name from its tendency to reside near shoreline habitats, and they are often seen trolling the ocean floor in the surf zone, very close to shore. They are found in warm or temperate waters throughout the world’s oceans, except the eastern Pacific.
Something that sets the Sand Tiger Shark apart from other carnivorous fish is its ability to self adjust its buoyancy levels. The shark will break the surface of the ocean, gulp air, and then store the air in its stomach, allowing it to float motionless in the water. All the better to silently stalk prey…
Though this species of shark has relatively plentiful numbers, they have a scarily low reproduction rate and are thus listen as threatened on the worldwide species list, meaning they are vulnerable to endangerment in the future.
Visit Hans, our very own Sand Tiger Shark, at the Islands of Steel exhibit this Saturday for Green Halloween and learn more spooky shark facts!
Creepy Critter #4: Green Moray Eel
This creepy critter can be found anywhere from the western Atlantic Ocean, to Bermuda, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and as far south as Brazil. Their sinuous, snake-like appearance ups their “ick” factor, but not as much as the fact that they’re actually covered in mucus does! It’s hard to believe, but these species – so known for their vibrant lime green color – is actually brown. The yellow tint of mucus that its body is coated in is yellow, thereby giving this spooky, serpentine creature its signature hue.
TSA Aquarist Rafael Calderon added another creepy fact to this animal’s repertoire of weirdness. “It’s kind of cool, even alien-like, but the Green Moray actually has two pairs of jaws, a primary and a pharyngeal, meaning it’s located deeper inside the eel’s throat,” he explains. “The first set of jaws grabs and holds the prey and the second sucks in the food and eats it whole.” That prey is normally fish, squid, shrimp, crab, and octopus.
These incredibly successful predators can allegedly grow to be up to eight feet in length, and they come equipped with some seriously scary teeth. Curved and sharp, you can see them when the eels open and close their mouths every so often, something they do to breathe. Although this behavior may appear threatening, the eel is actually taking in water to breathe. The water passes over its gills and exits through vent-like openings at the back of the creature’s head.
“They don’t really play well with others, either,” says Calderon, “Green Morays are very territorial, and if they don’t like you in their space, or if you’re getting too close, they’ll let you know it.”
Another creepy fact via Calderon is that Green Morays love tight, enclosed spaces. No claustrophobia for these scale-less swimmers.
The Texas State Aquarium is home to three Green Moray eels, Russell, Scooter, and Houdini – come get a load of these alien-like fish this Saturday at Green Halloween!
Eyes as big as half dollars and as yellow-orange as a harvest moon stare straight into yours, the intense gaze of the apex predator creeping into your soul…or at least that’s how some may feel. The long look a Eurasian Eagle Owl can give you is not one you’ll soon forget.
These owls are native to Europe and Asia, and are among the biggest in the entire world – they can reportedly boast a six-and-a-half-foot wingspan! Within this impressive wingspan are serrated (like the teeth on a knife) wing feathers that enable the owl to glide almost silently through the night, stalking its prey – unbeknownst – from the sky.
“It’s a really cool adaptation,” says Bird and Mammal Trainer Jessica Brown, “Also the soft, downy feathers underneath help absorb sound and any turbulence they encounter in the air, making them even quieter.”
Eurasian Eagle Owls hunt using their silent flight, keen eyesight, and impeccable hearing. Brown says that like other species of owl, eagle owls have facial disks, or groups of feathers around their ears, that actually direct sounds toward their ears. Owls can raise these feathers slightly when on the hunt, enabling them to hear the rustle of a mouse in the grass, the flapping of feathers in the night, or the slithering of a snake in a tree branch. These sounds give away the location of prey animals, making it easy for these owls to swiftly swoop in to catch a meal – and their pointed, powerful talons can exert 500 pounds of PSI (pressure per inch)! Compared to the human hand’s 30 lbs of PSI, that’s scarily strong. “They normally hunt rodents like rabbits and rats, but they’ll also eat other raptors, and they can even take down small deer,” explains Brown.
The scariest thing about this creature, however, is its history. During the first half of the 20th century, Eurasian Eagle Owl numbers declined radically as humans over-hunted and nearly poisoned the whole population. Local European governments began increasing protective measures regarding the owls, and they are now back to a healthier number, though not as populous as they once were.
TSA’s resident Eurasian Eagle Owl, Brutus, will be one featured creature you can meet at Green Halloween this Saturday!
The “Creepy” Creature is a Tarantula! It is in the bottom left of the facebook photo.