The largest collection of bull sharks and more!
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SHARKS YOU CAN SEE ON EXHIBIT:
Bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas)
Bull sharks are considered to be one of the ocean’s top predators and one of the most dangerous sharks in the world due to it having the strongest bite force of any shark species. Not only are they found along coasts all over the world, but they are also found in lakes and rivers as they are the only shark species capable of swimming in both salt and fresh water. They are able to do this through osmoregulation, which is the process by which an animal controls the salt content of their blood; although all shark species can osmoregulate, none are able to do it as efficiently as the bull shark. Bull sharks typically feed on crustaceans, smaller sharks, rays and sometimes marine mammals. Like all sharks, they have several rows of teeth in their mouth at once and lose their teeth each time they eat. Over the course of their lifetime, a shark can lose up to 30,000 teeth! Bull sharks can grow up to about 11 feet in length and can be recognized by their distinctly pointy nose. In fact, their scientific name, Carcharhinus leucas, directly translates to “pointy white nose!”
Nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum)
Nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) are bottom dwelling sharks that typically reside along coral and rocky reefs in the warm waters of the western Atlantic ocean and eastern Pacific ocean. They can be easily distinguished by their “whiskers”. These “whiskers” are called barbels, which these creatures use to sense prey along the ocean floor. They are carnivores with a diet consisting of clams, octopus, lobsters, shrimp and other bottom-dwelling fish. Nurse sharks feed by suction, which means they suck up their food like a vacuum, and then use their teeth to grind it up before swallowing. While most sharks need to continuously swim to pump water over their gills, nurse sharks are able to breathe by using their strong buccal, or cheek, muscles. Because buccal pumping allows them to independently pump water over their gills without swimming, they don’t need to swim very much, which is why tend to remain stationary in our tank. Sometimes they may use their large pectoral fins to “walk” across the ocean floor!
Swell sharks (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum)
Swell sharks are a nocturnal, smaller sized shark found in subtropical waters, ranging from central California to southern Mexico, as well as along the coast of central Chile. Their habitat consists of rocky substrates covered in algae or caves where they can hide until night. This species of shark is another bottom-dwelling carnivore that feeds on crustaceans, mollusks and other small fish. Their main predators are either larger fish or sea lions and seals. While they are typically smaller in size, their name comes from a unique anti-predator behavior that they perform. When they feel threatened, they will grab their caudal fin (tail fin) with their mouth and begin to swallow large volumes of water that allows them to double in size! This is a beneficial defense mechanism because it can ward off predators or make it hard to pull the swell shark out of their crevice. When the threat is no longer present, the swell shark will release the swallowed water, which causes them to make a dog-like bark in the water.
White spotted bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum)
White spotted bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) have a wide geographical range, throughout the Indo-West Pacific Ocean extending from the coast of Madagascar, India, Japan, China and Thailand. These docile creatures prefer shallow tropical reefs and use their barbels to detect food and feed on a variety of crabs, shrimp and small fish. They have a light brown body with dark brown stripes with white dots. Surprisingly, the main predators of the white spotted bamboo sharks tend to be other, larger shark species. Just like other sharks, they have electroreceptors, called Ampullae of Lorenzini, which help them to detect prey that may be hiding in sandy or muddy areas.
SHARKS YOU CAN SEE ON OUR BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR
Zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum)
The zebra shark is a large, nocturnal hunter that resides in tropical climates among coral reefs, sandy areas, and rocky substrates. They have a fairly large geographical distribution ranging from the Indo-West Pacific Ocean, down the east coast of Africa and along New South Whales, Australia. They suck their prey into their mouths with their strong buccal muscles and use their teeth to grind up clams, snails and other small invertebrates. A unique feature about the zebra shark is that the caudal fin is almost as long as the main body! Their main predators are tiger sharks and humans. Zebra sharks are often a prime candidate for shark fin soup and their livers are sometimes sold as vitamins. Zebra sharks are born with dark brown and yellow stripes that change to dark brown dots as they mature which can often be mistaken for the leopard shark, who resembles similar markings.
Leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata)
Leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata) are a yellow-brown bodied shark with very large dark brown spots. They have a narrow geographic range along the eastern Pacific Ocean that extends from Oregon down to the Gulf of California in Mexico. These sharks can be found in sandy or muddy areas near the bottom and their diet consists of crabs, shrimp, octopus, clams, and other invertebrates. One of the most well-known predators in our oceans, the great white shark, is just one fish that tends to feed on the small leopard sharks. These guys can live up to 30 years in the wild!
Bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo)
The bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) tends to be found in subtropical and tropical waters along the coasts of North America, down to southern Brazil and covering the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They live in shallow, muddy, and sandy bays or in coral reefs. They tend to feed on crustaceans, clams, octopus, and other small fish. The bonnethead shark is often mistaken for a hammerhead shark, which is its much larger family member. Bonnethead sharks typically have a narrower head and rounded snout. Bonnethead sharks are relatively social animals, often found in groups of 3-15. They are prey to larger sharks, such as the lemon shark and the tiger shark. Bonnetheads can live up to 12 years and can reach up to four feet in length. They are considered to be on the endangered list due to fishing and habitat loss and degradation.