Sharks are magnificent predators, and it’s easy to see why so many people are captivated by them. Keeping sharks in captivity can be a great way to raise awareness about some of the threats that sharks face every day.
Did you know there are no Great White Sharks in captivity in the entire world? It’s impossible to meet the needs of this nomadic animal in a tank, and the longest one has survived in captivity ever was 198 days. Many do not make it that long. Every shark species has different need requirements, that’s why we’re careful at SeaQuest Littleton, Colorado only to keep animals we can ensure will thrive in our facilities! Some of the sharks that call our aquarium home include:
- Blacktip Reef Shark
- Whitespotted Bamboo Shark
- Horn Shark
- Nurse shark
- Smooth Greyhound Shark
Spot This One: Reef Shark
Blacktip Reef Sharks can be easily identified by the black tips on all of their fins. They are one of the most commonly seen species of shark found in the Pacific Ocean’s tropical coral reefs. Unfortunately, these beautiful sharks are prone to overfishing, and with their low reproductive rate, their population can struggle to rebound. Luckily, Blacktip Reef Sharks are thriving in captivity.
The Friendly Shark: Whitespotted Bamboo Shark
The Whitespotted Bamboo Shark is classified as a “carpet shark,” this means that it is in the Orectolobiformes order. Carpet sharks interestingly got their name due to the ornate patterns that resemble carpets! This breed of sharks are categorized by their gill slits— of which they have five, two spineless dorsal fins, and smallmouth. This nocturnal friend is harmless to humans and is occasionally even kept as a pet in larger aquariums. This oviparous shark lays eggs that hatch after 14 or 15 weeks. In 2002 there was a riveting account of a female whitespotted bamboo shark hatching eggs without any apparent fertilization!
The Sneaky Shark: Horn Shark
Sharks are commonly known for ruling the open waters, but not the horn shark! The horn shark is known for hiding out in the shadows that cover the seafloor. These slow-moving predators hunt at night alone and then retreat to shelter during the day. When horn sharks find their prey, consisting of invertebrates and small bony fish, they extract it using suction. The dangers of shark finning do not commonly target horn sharks, but they are caught as bycatch (accidentally when fishing for other fish).
The Little Guy: Catsharks
Catsharks can be found in temperate and tropical seas around the world. They get their name from their elongated cat-like eyes and small dorsal fins that sit towards the back of their bodies. Though small, this carnivorous shark is one of the largest families of sharks, with around 160 species! Surprisingly, catsharks are poor swimmers— this means that they do not participate in long-distance migrations. They also exhibit habitat segregation, where males and females live in separate areas. The females typically live in caves and shelters to protect eggs, while the males live in open seabeds.
The Harmless Giant: Nurse Shark
How did the nurse shark get its name? Unfortunately, no one knows! The origin of this name is unclear, but many theories have been presented. Some say that the name comes from the sucking sound nurse sharks make when hunting prey in sand that resembles a nursing baby’s sound. Another option is that it comes from the medieval word “hurse.” Hurse was a name used long ago to describe many shark species, and it is believed that it was mispronounced as “nurse.” Nurse sharks are slow swimmers and bottom-dwelling sharks. Their strong mouths are filled with thousands of tiny teeth that dine on invertebrates and fish. Nurse sharks are smooth to the touch and are a brown-grey color; the large tail fins that adorn their bodies can be up to one-fourth their total length!
Sharks play an essential part of the ocean’s food chain and help balance the ecosystem. There is an increased demand for shark products which is producing a significant issue with shark hunting and finning. Overfishing, shark finning, and other irresponsible ocean activities threaten the ocean ecosystem and extinction for many shark species. Sharks are increasingly vulnerable to these attacks due to the fact that they are slow to reach reproductive age, reproduce slowly, and are long-lived. Each hour 11,417 sharks are slaughtered.
For more information on shark finning and shark conservation visit SeaQuest Littleton, Colorado.
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