Adventure Aquarium officially announced the newest additions to the largest collection of sharks on the east coast with the birth of two female sandbar shark pups in the facility’s Shark Realm exhibit. The sandbar pups are the first-ever to be born at Adventure Aquarium. Guests participating in the behind the scenes Shark and Ray Encounter on Saturday, October 15, 2016, saw the pups swimming in the exhibit and captured footage on their GoPro.
After the pups were initially observed by the Shark and Ray Encounter participants and staff, they were moved behind the scenes for immediate veterinary care and observation. The Aquarium’s Fish and Invertebrate team has worked closely over the last nine weeks to monitor the young sharks’ health and eating patterns as the first weeks of life for the young sharks are fragile.
“The pups’ overall food intake has increased steadily since their birth which is an excellent sign,” said Nikki Grandinetti, Curator of Fish and Invertebrates at Adventure Aquarium. “Currently, the two female shark pups weigh 1.6 lbs and 2.2 lbs and are 20.25 inches and 23.5 inches in length, respectively. They are both progressing nicely and doing well.”
A majority of shark species, including sandbars, give birth to live young. Sandbars reach sexual maturity at around 16 years of age and their average gestational period is about 12 months. Females also have what is known as a biennial reproductive cycle meaning they reproduce every other year.
“The birth of these shark pups is very exciting for our team,” said Grandinetti. “Our priority is to keep providing these animals the best care possible as they continue to grow.”
The sandbar pups will remain behind the scenes in holding systems to allow them time to grow larger in size before eventually being introduced into the Shark Realm exhibit. The growth process could take a few years before the sharks will be ready for the transition.
Adult sandbar sharks can weigh up to 200 pounds and reach up to 7.5 feet in length. The sandbar shark, also known as the brown shark, is one of the biggest coastal sharks in the world. It is the most common shark species swimming along the mid-Atlantic coast. Its most distinguishing characteristic is a taller than average first dorsal fin. True to its name, the sandbar shark is commonly found over muddy or sandy bottoms in shallow coastal waters such as bays, estuaries, harbors or the mouths of rivers.