Congo river pufferHappy World Rivers Day! Today we celebrate the many values of our waterways and encourage involvement in promoting their health.    

We’d like to spotlight three freshwater animals from around the world: the Congo River puffer, found in our Rivers gallery; the tiger ray, an Amazon Rising resident; and the largemouth bass, a Chicago River native on exhibit in At Home on the Great Lakes.

At first glance, you notice the beautiful grey-yellow mosaic pattern of the Congo River puffer (Tetraodon mbu). And then you see its “teeth”! The pufferfish’s front dental plates are used for cutting and crushing hard-shelled prey, such as crustaceans or mollusks. At Shedd, it has a dental exam every six months. Native to the Congo River, this species may face habitat loss in the future due to expanding farmlands in East Africa. 

Tiger Ray

The tiger ray (Potamotrygon schroederi), also known as the rosette river stingray, is named for its orange-and-black coloring. Its disk can get up to 21 inches wide, and male stingrays often nibble on female stingrays’ disks during mating. Tiger rays live in river channels and on sandy beaches of the Rio Negro and Orinoco River basins, where they face habitat loss. In 2005, Shedd was the first aquarium to breed tiger rays and helped develop its Species Survival Plan, which tracks stingrays for improved breeding.

Large mouth bassThe largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is the top fish predator in the Chicago River. It is distinguished by its long jawline, which extends beyond the rear edge of its eye. It lives in warm, quiet waters and has a reputation for being aggressive when intruders get close to its nest. A typical largemouth is 12-14 inches long, although the record largemouth caught in the Chicago River was 19 inches.

On World Rivers Day, we encourage everyone to better care for the water that we and wildlife depend on. We must be aware of how our water resources are all connected.  While residents of the Chicago area get their water from Lake Michigan, when they’re done with it, they send it downstream toward the Mississippi. Join the World Rivers Day celebration by participating in a local stream cleanup. And check out how you can conserve water at home. 

 -Nadia Hlebowitsh, Online Communications Assistant