Fish outfitted with prosthetic eye

Some might call the whole exercise frivolous, but not those taking care of the creatures at the aquarium

(CNN) – At the Vancouver Aquarium they’re learning about the diversity of creatures living off the B.C. coast. But these days one particular fish in this tank is getting a great deal of attention.

“Recently veterinarians at the Vancouver Aquarium fitted this animal with a prosthetic, or fake, eye.”

Performing surgery on a rockfish takes some unique preparations. The fish had to be anesthetized and placed on a special fish-sized surgical bed. A vet from the Seattle Aquarium who’s done this procedure before was also brought in to share her expertise.

One key was getting just the right eye from a taxidermist supply company. Cost: $1.50.

Some might call the whole exercise frivolous but not those taking care of the creatures at the aquarium.

“We try and do the best we can for every single creature that’s here, no matter what, we treat everything from sea stars to belugas, and a rockfish that might be having an uncomfortable life that we can do something about, I think that’s a perfect candidate to do something for.”

He says the fish, one of two that had the procedure, was suffering because others were picking on it, sensing weakness.
“We were trying to prevent some bullying and get the fish to have as happy a life as possible, primarily because we have this sort of aging population of fish.”

The copper rockfish is somewhere between 20 and 30 years old, not unusual for a species that can live for several decades.

Word of the half-blind fish has spread, opening young eyes to some of life’s difficult problems.

A simple surgery, delivering a prominent peeper, that’s drawing attention to the Vancouver Aquarium, and the senior citizens swimming inside its tanks.

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