Looking for a barber, a surgeon or a soldier?
How about a sucker, a shiner or a stoneroller?
Whether one recognizes the names of these underwater dwellers or they just sound kinda fishy, the denizens of the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum new Warden Aquarium are fascinating to watch.
Opening Saturday, the aquarium is the Desert Museum's first major new exhibit in a decade. The aquarium features several dozen species of fresh- and saltwater creatures in 14 tanks, representative of the waterways that once flowed through the Sonoran desert region to the Sea of Cortez.
The aquarium exhibition, called "Rivers to the Sea," highlights the role of the region's rivers, including the Colorado and the Gulf of California. The 1,100-square-foot aquarium exhibit, housed in one of the museum's historical structures built in 1937, includes many now-endangered species of freshwater fish, as well as aquatic-dwellers at home in the brackish waters near the coast, and ocean life representative of the Sea of Cortez.
The project cost $750,000, with the Warden family of Marana, via the Bert W. Martin Foundation, donating $400,000, said Craig Ivanyi, executive director of the Desert Museum.
The Wardens started the foundation in 1971 to honor Martin, a family member and philanthropist from Chicago. The foundation's focus is on conservation and education.
Part of the exhibit will highlight the Desert Museum's ongoing conservation projects that benefit native aquatic species and help protect sea life threatened by habitat destruction and fishing practices, Ivanyi said.
What you'll see
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Warden Aquarium opens Saturday and includes freshwater and saltwater exhibits. Here are some of the species featured:
• Colorado pikeminnow
• Razorback sucker
• Apache trout
• Bonytail chub
• Humpback chub
• Flannelmouth sucker
• Roundtail chub
• Beautiful shiner
• Yaqui chub
• Mexican stoneroller
• Yaqui topminnow
• Sonoyta pupfish
• Rio Sonoyta longfin dace
• Pacific seahorse
• Horn shark
• California sea hare
• Pacific boxfish
• Longnose butterflyfish
• Guineafowl puffer
• Spotted garden eel
• Longnose hawkfish
• King angelfish
• Scrawled filefish
• Starry moray
• Jewel moray
• Zebra moray
• Mexican lookdown
• Cortez angelfish
• Cortez rainbow wrasse
• Achilles tang
• Moorish Idol
If you go
• What: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
• Where: 2021 N. Kinney Road
• When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through February. Museum opens an hour earlier beginning in March.
• Cost: $14.50; $5 ages 4 through 12; free for children age 3 and younger.
• Contact: Go to www.desertmuseum.org or call 883-2702.
Did you know?
Of the 36 species of fish native to Arizona, 21 are listed as threatened or endangered, and one, the Santa Cruz pupfish, is already extinct, having disappeared from its namesake river by 1904, according to the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is one of several local facilities that have captive populations of the pupfish.
The Desert Museum, along with state and federal agencies, all hold and breed threatened and endangered fish species. The museum works on conservation programs for other aquatic animals as well. Recently, the museum bred and released Tarahumara frogs to the wild. The frog species had been absent from the Arizona wilds for more than 20 years. The museum is also engaged in conservation work involving the Chiricahua leopard frog, Yaqui catfish, Sonora chub, Mexican gartersnake and Quitobaquito mud turtle.
The Warden Aquarium exhibit, which opens Saturday, is included in the museum's general admission price; however, capacity is limited to 15 viewing times daily. Upon arrival, museum visitors will be assigned a time (on a first-come, first-served basis) to view the aquarium exhibit. For an additional $5 fee, visitors can go online before they arrive to reserve a guaranteed viewing time.
A daily private tour of the aquarium runs from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. and is limited to 15 visitors. Tickets are $25 per person, plus the regular museum admission making the total $39.50 for ages 13 through adult; $30 for ages 4 through 12; and $25 for children age 3 and younger. There is no charge for infants and toddlers who are carried through the exhibit. Strollers are not permitted. Children age 14 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. The exhibit is wheelchair and scooter accessible.
Tickets are available online only and must be purchased by 4 p.m. the day before the tour.
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at email@example.com or at 573-4191.