National Zoo Keeper Week 2018

This week is National Zoo Keeper Week. Even though we don’t have “Zoo Keepers,” our Biologists give exemplary care to the animals that live here at Newport Aquarium. Follow us throughout this week to see what our biologists do every day! #NZKW

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Mission: To recognize and promote dedicated zoo and aquarium professionals year round, culminating in an annual celebration during the third week in July – National Zoo Keeper Week.

Newport Aquarium has twelve biologists that care for all of the fish, reptiles, amphibians, and penguins that have their home here. Care for these animals is more than just simply feeding and giving the animals some attention. They also have a lot of cleaning, food preparation, and maintenance work to do! #NZKW

Training is an important part of the care of many of our animals here at Newport Aquarium. Animals like Mighty Mike and our Sharkrays are target trained. This means that they know to come to a target pole to get their food. This helps the biologists safely work with these animals and ensures that every one of them gets the food they need.

Kelly and Erin feeding Mike (2)

Kelly and Erin target feed Mighty Mike, our 14-foot long, 800-pound alligator.

Our biologists give animals enrichment. Enrichment can be anything from a new object in their space, changing around their furniture, a new scent, sounds of their wild cousins, or a new food item. Our biologists use enrichment all of the time to stimulate our animal’s minds, keep them active, and help our animals engage in natural behaviors.

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Kristen celebrated Dr. Seuss Day by reading to the penguins.

There are many types of animals at the aquarium, which leads to many types of biologists who care for them. We have biologists who prefer work with the big sharks and those that work with the tiny dwarf seahorses. We have biologists who prefer to work with penguins and those that would rather work with frogs. But whatever our biologists do, they always work as a team to make sure the animals get the best care possible!

Tamara penguin house (2)

Tamara is one of our resident penguin biologists. Her main job is taking care of our African Penguins. Tamara also works with our outreach reptiles.  Tamara says, “My favorite part of my job is learning the different personalities of all of the animals I work with!”

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Scott feeds Shark Central in the morning. The sharks like to eat squid.

Scott is a jack of all trades. He is an aquarist, a plumber, and one of the local news station’s favorite interviewees. Scott did our first Takeover Tuesday blog post. One of his favorite tanks to work with is our shark touch tank, Shark Central. “I love working with Shark Central because it has sharks from all over the world.”

IMG_3652 (2)Erin works with our reptile and amphibian collection. We featured Erin in A Day in the Life of a Herpetologist. While she is in charge of the care of our alligators and venomous reptiles, there is a special place in her heart for the frogs of Frog Bog. “Frogs are incredible animals. The way they change from their fish lifestyle as a tadpole to becoming a frog has always fascinated me!” #NZKW

Kristen Paddlefish (2)

Kristen is one of our new biologists. She was first featured in our Animal Experience Specialist Takeover Tuesday. Because of this, she helps take care of a little bit of everything. “I love that I get to take care of many different kinds of animals. It helps to make every day interesting!”

Rob cleaning coral (2)Rob takes care of our live coral tanks. He also helps out in our Seahorse Gallery with the Ribbon Dragons and Dwarf Seahorses. “I love corals because they are colorful, challenging, and confusing to many people. They are a reminder to everyone that the health of our oceans is very important.”
Ty jelly tank (2)

Ty has a passion for the invertebrates at Newport Aquarium. He leads team in the care for Simon the Octopus and the Jellyfish. “My favorite part of working with jellyfish is the culturing and propagation.” Learn more about Ty in his Takeover Tuesday: World of the Octopus Edition.

Health care is always on the mind of a good biologist. Daily observation of the animals helps to spot a problem before it starts. And if the need arises, our biologists work closely with our Vet Team to address any issue.

Our biologists realize that there is more to their work than simply taking care of the animals right in front of them. Conservation is a vital consideration at any aquarium. We at Newport Aquarium play our part as well. Our biologists have taken part in such projects as freshwater mussel studies here in Kentucky and sea turtle headstart programs in North Carolina.

Kelly feeding caiman (2)

Kelly target trains the caiman lizard.

Kelly helps our reptiles live a happy, healthy life. She knows that training helps the animals get better care and helps to stimulate their minds. She is currently working to train many of our reptiles, including Nester, our caiman lizard. “I feel proud of Nester when he targets correctly. It is very satisfying.”

Jen

Jen is with one of our shark rays in the acclimation pool.

Jen is an aquarist who works with all of our tunnel systems. This includes her favorite tank, Surrounded by Sharks. She says her favorite part of her job is “definitely the incredible animals she gets to work with!”

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Michelle hand feeds the stingrays in our stingray touch pool.

Michelle spends much of her day caring for our stingrays in Stingray Hideaway, and was featured in a special Takeover Tuesday all about Stingray Hideaway. Because stingrays are so intelligent and curious, she also makes sure they get the enrichment they need to live a stimulating and happy life. “Each stingray interacts with the enrichment in a different way. I love to watch the way each one expresses her own quirks when I give a new enrichment item.”

Dan, Jolene, and Victoria1

Introducing Victoria to her “snow spa” behind the scenes. It helped her stay cool during her molting process.

Dan is our senior penguin biologist. He spends most of his day cleaning and caring for our cold weather penguins in Penguin Palooza. He’s taking care of Victoria the penguin. He says his favorite part of his job is penguin breeding. “It is challenging to breed them. I get one shot a year and if it doesn’t work, I have to try and figure out why.” Dan also wrote a Takeover Tuesday for World Penguin Day.

Feeding Starfish PictureMargaret is an aquarist who works with a variety of saltwater fish. She was featured in a special Tide Pool edition of Takeover Tuesday. She gives her time and talent to the animals that live in our Shore Gallery. “I am currently target training the Snowflake Eels and Trumpet Fish. It is cool to watch them learn and engage with me.”

IMG_1730 (2)Laurel works closely with our quarantine animals and those that live at our offsite animal health facility. She and the vet team are the first people that our animals encounter before they make their way to the exhibits here at Newport Aquarium. “The best part of this job is bringing animals to people who may never get to see them otherwise. It makes an impact on these people and helps them become more aware of the world and conservation needs.”

Thank you for following along and learning more about our talented team of animal care takers. Next time you see one of them,. #ThankAKeeper

 

 

 

Celebrate #SharkSummer at Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky. — It’s just not summer without sharks! Newport Aquarium, the Shark Capital of the Midwest, is kicking off the summer season and Memorial Day weekend with free kid’s admission and a fintastic event celebrating sharks!

02SharkSummerLogoWithSurfBoards_PNG - CopyDuring #SharkSummer, May 27 to July 8, guests will get the opportunity to journey through the aquarium, discovering fun shark facts and shark related exhibits around every corner. They’ll even get to touch sharks including a new species of shark never before featured at Newport Aquarium. Plus, Sundays through Fridays, one kid (ages 2-12) gets in free after 4 p.m. with the purchase of a full-priced adult ticket. This offer is available for a very limited time only from May 27 to July 8 and must be purchased online at https://www.newportaquarium.com/Visitor-Tips/Aquarium-Events/Summer-Family-Hours.

New Baby Sharks
Newport Aquarium is excited to announce the arrival of a new species of shark that is swimming its way into Shark Central. Wasabi and Sake, two baby Japanese Bullhead Sharks just joined more than a dozen other sharks in the Shark Central touch tank.

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Guests can easily spot the sharks as they make sand angels in the bottom of their tank, and by their long fins as they swim alongside the bigger sharks. They join the rest of their kelp forest “cousins,” including the Port Jackson, Leopard Shark, Leopard Catshark and Striped Catshark species. The aquarium is welcoming the new residents during Shark Summer from May 27 to July 8.


Extended Summer Hours

Just in time for summer, Newport Aquarium is extending its summer hours and will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily between May 27 and September 2.

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Guests can touch more than a dozen different sharks in Shark Central.

 

Two Summers of Fun with an Annual Pass
For a limited time only, guests will get two extra months free when they purchase an Annual Pass.  That’s 14 months of fun and discovery for the price of 12 months, plus exclusive Passholder events, bring a friend free days and additional savings throughout the year.

#SharkSummer
With extra time and free kid’s admission, guests have the opportunity to visit Newport Aquarium for Shark Summer, which runs May 27 to July 8. See sharks like never before when you cross over the open waters of the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit on Shark Bridge. Experience what it feels like to touch six different species in Shark Central. Then, get nose-to-nose with sharks when they swim next to you and above you as you venture through more than 80 feet of acrylic tunnels.

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Explore the tunnels, and be Surrounded by Sharks!

Shark-Infested Activities during #SharkSummer

Shark Nursery – See shark eggs from three different species of sharks. Guests will have the opportunity to see the early stages of life as a baby shark grows in the egg. This brand new shark nursery is in the Shore Gallery.

Shark Bridge – More than 2 million thrill-seekers have dared to cross Shark Bridge! Included with admission, Shark Bridge is a 75-foot-long rope bridge suspended just inches above nearly two dozen sharks.

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More than 2-million thrill-seekers have dared to cross Shark Bridge.

Shark Talks and Dive Shows – Guests catch their first and largest views of shark rays and sharks in Shark Ray Bay Theater. Divers take questions from the audience about the biology and conservation of sharks and other animals found inside the huge habitat.

Shark Tank Feed – Guests can watch biologists feed the sharks and shark rays from either the Shark Ray Bay Theater, Surrounded by Sharks tunnels or through a biologist’s point-of-view from the Shark Tank Overlook.

Touch Sharks – Inside Shark Central, guests have the opportunity to touch more than a dozen sharks including the brand new Japanese Bullhead Sharks. An Animal Experience Specialist teaches guests the proper technique to touch sharks and helps them understand each species in this international collection.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shark Week: Meet our Sharks

Since 1988, Shark Week has become almost a national holiday, popularized by Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, these amazing creatures have been a source of our own curiosity for decades. Newport Aquarium, Shark Capital of the Midwest, is home to nearly 50 sharks of all sizes! Make your way down to the aquarium this Shark Week to discover the wonder of sharks!

Shark Central

Guests can touch five species of sharks in the Shark Central touch tank.

Shark Central

Shark Central is home to more than a dozen smaller kelp forest sharks that guests can touch. With the proper two-finger touch technique, guests can have a personal encounter with these amazing creatures. Here are some of the different types of sharks guest can meet in Shark Central:

Horn Shark

The California Horn Shark hails from the waters of Southern California, Baja California,

Port Jackson, California Horn Shark

A Port Jackson shark (left) rests at the bottom of the tank next to the smaller California horn shark.

Galapagos Islands, and off the coast of Ecuador and Peru. Growing up to 48 inches in length, these little guys prefer kelp forests, sea caves, rocky reefs, and sand flats as their home. The horn shark’s diet consists of mainly urchins, crabs, abalones and other small invertebrates.

 

Leopard Catshark

This shark, reaching only about 34 inches in length prefers to hide safely in the bottoms of rocky reefs in small crevices.

napping sharks

A leopard catshark rests on top a pile of pyjama sharks. These sharks often take a nap in a pile.

These sharks are found mainly around southern and western South Africa. At night, the leopard cat shark leaves its hiding place to hunt for small fish, octopuses, worms, and crustaceans.

Leopard Shark

Not to be confused with the leopard catshark, these sharks might be small now but one day they could reach lengths of up to 7 feet.

leopard sharks

Leopard sharks can reach up to 7-feet long.

They prefer shallow, muddy, rocky and sandy areas like kelp forests. Their diet consists of mainly rays, bony fish, shrimp, octopuses, crabs, clams and worms. You can find these sharks in the eastern Pacific, from Oregon all the way down to Baja, California.

Port Jackson Shark

At full size, Port Jackson sharks can reach lengths of about 5.5 feet. These sharks love the waters of Southern Australia where they feed on mollusks, crustaceans, urchins and fish.

Port Jackson

The Port Jackson shark has a unique color pattern with dark, harness-like markings that cover the eyes, back and sides.

You can find them roaming through sandy, muddy and rocky environments as well as sea grass beds. There are two Port Jackson sharks in Shark Central. Their names are Sheila and PJ.

Striped Catshark     

Also commonly known as the pyjama shy shark, these sharks grow up to 40 inches long.

Pyjama shark

The striped catshark is also known as the Pyjama shark or shy shark.

They prefer rocky reefs, seas caves and crevices during the day and leave at night to hunt for crustaceans, fish, sharks, rays, worms, and cephalopods. The striped catsharks is mainly found around southern South Africa and southwestern Indian Ocean.

Surrounded by Sharks

This exhibit provides a truly unique experience for all those fascinated by sharks. Walk through the tunnels under a 385,000-gallon tank and watch as these fierce-looking and beautiful creatures swim right over your head. On your way out make your way to Shark Bridge and see if you have what it takes to DARE TO CROSS. Surrounded by Sharks is home to sand tiger sharks, zebra sharks, blacktip reef sharks, a nurse shark and shark rays.

Zebra Shark

Reaching up to 8 feet long, these sharks live in coral and rocky reefs as well as sea grass beds.

zebra shark

Zebra sharks are born with strips, which change into small dark spots as they mature.

They are mainly found in the Indo-Pacific from South Africa to the Red Sea in the West. Our zebra shark is named Roo!

Shark Rays

Shark Rays, also known as bowmouth guitarfish, live in tropical coastal waters of the western Indo-Pacific at depths of around 300 feet.

SharkRay_Group

Newport Aquarium is home to four shark rays: Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike.

Usually found close the sea floor, the shark ray likes sandy or muddy areas where they can feed on bony fishes, crustaceans and mollusks. Newport Aquarium is home to four sharks rays: Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine, and Spike.

Nurse Shark

Nurse sharks rest during the day. They have the lowest metabolic rate of any other assessed shark species.

Nurse Shark

Ziggy the nurse shark, rests alongside one of the tunnels in Surrounded by Sharks.

Nurse sharks live in shallow mangrove forests, sand flats, reefs, seagrass beds, and man-made objects. Reaching lengths of 14 feet, this shark hails from the eastern Atlantic, western Atlantic, and the eastern Pacific oceans. They feed on mainly mollusks, tunicates, crustaceans, octopuses, fish, sea snakes and rays. Look for Ziggy the nurse shark the next time you enter the tunnels of Surrounded by Sharks.

Sand Tiger Sharks

Sand tiger sharks reach lengths of up to 10.5 feet long. They are found in many temperate and tropical waters including shallow bays, inlets, coral and rocky reefs, shipwrecks and shelf drops.

Sand Tiger shark

All those teeth might make them look ferocious, but sand tiger sharks are a relatively docile, non-aggressive species.

These sharks are found almost everywhere except portions of the eastern Pacific. There are three sand tiger sharks at Newport Aquarium: Cal, Al, and Dan.

Blacktip Reef Sharks

Typically between 4 to 5 feet in length, the black-tip reef shark lives in and near coral reefs.

black tip reef shark

Here’s a rare view (not available to the public) of a black tip reef shark from the top of the feeding platform over Surrounded by Sharks.

They prefer to feed on fish, squid, octopuses, and shrimp that are old, injured or already dead. They are found in many spots including western Pacific, northern Australia, southeastern China and the western Indian Ocean. There are 8 blacktip reef sharks here at Newport Aquarium.

 

Epaulette Shark

Found in two locations in Newport Aquarium: Dangerous and Deadly exhibit and Stingray Hideaway. These sharks have a unique characteristic! The spot on their back acts as a defense mechanism because it looks like the eye of a much larger animal.

Epaulette shark

Epaulette sharks, Rocky, Clubber & Apollo were part of the first traveling Shark Cart outreach program with Wave Foundation. Guests can now see them in the Dangerous and Deadly exhibit.

Most predators will fear the large eye looking shape and back off. These sharks grow to about three feet long. They live around coral reefs and tidal pools around New Guinea and Australia. They usually feed on crustaceans, worms, and small bony fish.

Epaulette shark

One of the epaulette sharks guests can touch in Stingray Hideaway.

 

Coral Catshark
The coral catshark is a small, slender shark with a narrow head and elongated, cat-like eyes.

CoralCatShark

Two guests visiting Stingray Hideaway interacting with one of the coral catsharks.

They are found along shallow coral reefs across the Indo-West Pacific, from Pakistan and India to Malaysia and Japan. Guests can see and touch a coral catshark in the Stingray Hideaway touchpool, along with epaulette sharks.

Swell Shark

Swell sharks are found in rocky kelp beds from central California to central Chile. At Newport Aquarium, guests can spot a few in the Pacific Coast tunnel leading into Seahorses: Unbridled Fun. A swell shark can expand by filling its stomach with air or water when it feels threatened.

Swell Shark

The next time you pass through the Pacific Coast Tunnel, going into Seahorses: Unbridled Fun, see if you can spot a swell shark resting at the bottom.

To learn more about the sharks in Shark Central, and the Aquatic Biologist who takes care of the sharks, check out our Takeover Tuesday with Scott Brehob.

Celebrate Shark Week at Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium is the Shark Capital of the Midwest and with so many shark habitats to SEA, TOUCH and EXPLORE, it’s the best place to celebrate Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

See sharks like never before when you cross over the open waters of the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit on Shark Bridge. Experience what it feels like to touch six different species in Shark Central. Then, get nose-to-nose with sharks when they swim next to you and above you as you venture through more than 80 feet of acrylic tunnels.

Visit July 23 through July 30 to see nearly 50 sharks up-close, including sand tigers, zebra sharks, black tips, nurse shark, shark rays and more! Newport Aquarium currently features more than a dozen species of sharks from oceans around the world.

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Shark-Infested Activities:

Shark Bridge
– More than 2 million thrill-seekers have dared to cross Shark Bridge! Included with admission, Shark Bridge is a 75-foot-long rope bridge suspended just inches above nearly two dozen sharks.

Shark Talks and Dive Shows – Guests catch their first and largest views of shark rays and sharks in Shark Ray Bay Theater. Divers take questions from the audience about the biology and conservation of sharks and other animals found inside the tank.

Dive Show

One of the shark rays swims by during a Dive Show.

Shark Tank Feed – Guests can watch biologists feed the sharks and shark rays from either the Shark Ray Bay Theater, the Surrounded by Sharks tunnels, or through a biologist’s point-of-view from the Shark Tank Overlook.

Touch Sharks – Inside Shark Central, guests have the opportunity to touch dozens of sharks. An Animal Experience Specialist teaches guests the proper technique to touch sharks and helps them understand each species in this international collection.

Summer Family HoursGet free kid’s admission during Summer Family Hours. Sundays through Fridays, one kid (ages 2-12) gets in free after 4 p.m. with the purchase of one full-priced adult ticket. This offer is available until September 1, 2017 online only: https://www.newportaquarium.com/Visitor-Tips/Aquarium-Events/Summer-Family-Hours.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

 

 

 

Takeover Tuesday: Raising a loggerhead sea turtle

Takeover Tuesday features a “day in the life” of biologists at Newport Aquarium. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hello there, my name is Jen. I am a Senior Biologist here at Newport Aquarium. Thank you for joining me for this #TakeoverTuesday.

I started out at Newport Aquarium 13 years ago as a diver in the tunnel tanks and as a dive show presenter! Most of our divers are volunteers through the WAVE Foundation.

Jen Hazerres, dive suit

I’m getting into our acclimation tank ahead of a special dive training. I started out at Newport Aquarium as a volunteer diver with WAVE Foundation. To learn more about the Volunteer Dive Program, visit wavefoundation.org

Divers receive special training on how to safely interact with the fascinating aquatic animals who call this place home. After 4 years of diving I joined the staff as a part time presenter/biologist where I worked all around the aquarium. I eventually took on a full time position as a senior biologist where I now work with the animals in the shore gallery, shark tank and anywhere else I am needed.

As a biologist I have the pleasure of working with our loggerhead sea turtles here at Newport Aquarium.

Feeding Denver

Denver, our adult loggerhead sea turtle is about 24 years old and weighs about 205 pounds! His favorite foods include fish, squid and salmon which he eats regularly, about 3-5 days a week.

Denver lives in our 385,000 gallon “Surrounded by Sharks” exhibit. Visitors have the chance to get a glimpse of Denver close up as he swims around. Due to medical reasons, Denver will continue to serve as an ambassador animal for his kind, helping to educate visitors about sea turtles, while giving them the opportunity for such a unique interactive experience.

Frank our younger loggerhead sea turtle is here as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.

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Dr. Hill helps take shell measurements during Frank’s checkup. Frank now weighs 1298 grams (2.8 pounds). Right after this checkup, he received the green light to move into a bigger tank.

Frank arrived in October of 2016 and weighed only 96 grams (0.2 pounds)! My job is to make sure Frank grows up healthy and strong as he trains for his release back into the ocean in a few months.

Frank just entered the bigger tank in the Shore Gallery. Turtle Tuesday is the perfect day to celebrate his new home. When Frank is big enough he will be released back into the ocean near the Gulf Stream! Stay tuned for our blog posts when we take Frank back out to the ocean, like we did with Shack last year.

While we’re making an impact with sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation, we’re also making a global impact with our Shark Ray Breeding Program and research here at Newport Aquarium. Our dedicated team of biologists has recently published a chapter on Shark Ray Husbandry.

We attribute part of our success in breeding due to their diet. Our four shark rays, Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike eat only the finest of seafood – it’s restaurant quality!

shark ray

We brought one of our shark rays, Scooter, into the acclimation tank.

The shark rays receive lobsters three days out of the week and bony fish two days of the week. Feeding the shark rays lobster is not common practice among many aquariums. Our high quality diets heavily contribute to the health and happiness of our animals.

Thank you for joining me today for #TakeoverTuesday. I hope I helped to spark an interest in these incredible animals, and how important it is to take care of their environment.

 

Takeover Tuesday: Meet Diver Jon

Takeover Tuesday features a “day in the life” of biologists at Newport Aquarium. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

My name is Jon Nonnenmacher and I am the Lead Dive Safety Officer for Newport Aquarium. My main job is making sure every volunteer or staff SCUBA diver is safe in and out of the water. Not only do I make sure that all the equipment is in working order and within safety standards, I also make sure that the dive team is up-to-date on safety requirements and procedures followed by OSHA.

Diver Jon

Jon Nonnenmacher is the Lead Dive Safety Office for Newport Aquarium. He joined the Dive Services program as an intern from Wright State University, and has been a Dive Safety Officer for 7 years.

I have been a SCUBA diver for 10+ years now and I am currently working on becoming a PADI dive instructor with our local dive shop named Scuba Unlimited in Blue Ash Cincinnati.

Diver Emergency Training
I joined the Dive Services program as an intern from Wright State University. After my internship was up, I loved being a volunteer for the aquarium, and committed at least two days every week to come down and volunteer. The Lead DSO at the time saw my passion for diving, and she decided to bring me on the dive team. I have been a DSO for 7 years and the Lead DSO for 2 years.

Rescue Diver Emergency Training (2)

Diver Emergency Training is training that all divers must go through to be a diver; this way if an emergency happens, the divers will know how to respond and what they can do to help the victim.

In this picture, you can see me leading a group of five volunteer divers through Diver Emergency Training. This is training that all divers must go through to be a diver; this way if an emergency happens the divers will know how to respond and what they can do to help the victim.

Passion for Shark Rays

My passion for the shark rays grew quickly while working at Newport Aquarium. With the approval of the Husbandry staff, I was given the opportunity to work with the shark rays. In this picture, you can see me getting close to our large female shark ray, Sweet Pea, and placing my hands on her.

Sweetpea and me (2)

Diver Jon works closely with the shark rays. With the help of the Husbandry staff, we are able to perform routine health evaluations in our shark tank acclimation pool.

We do this type to help the animal get used to having divers around them, and to make sure they’re not stressed. With the help of the Husbandry staff, we are able to perform routine health evaluations in our shark tank acclimation pool. You can see and learn more about our acclimation pool on a Behind the Scenes tour offered at Newport Aquarium.

Safety First

The main job of a Dive Safety officer is to make sure that all the divers are safe. We have about a dozen Husbandry staff divers and more than 100 WAVE dive service volunteers. The best part of the job is letting a new diver know when they are going into our Shark exhibit for the first time.

Diver Jon

“The smile and joy they have before and after the dive is always an awesome story.”

The smile and joy they have before and after the dive is always an awesome story. In this picture, you can see me helping  one of our husbandry/vet staff members get ready for a dive in the shark tank. I am making sure that all of her equipment is in working order by doing a buddy-check before she gets into the water.

Dive Equipment

Another fun aspect of my job is maintaining all the dive equipment and making sure it is in safe working condition. I have taken classes on servicing and repairing the 1st and 2nd stages of a regulator (that is how a diver can breathe the mix gases from his cylinder to his regulator) (mix gas in a cylinder is roughly 22% oxygen and 78% Nitrogen).

Dive Equipment

The main job of a Dive Safety officer is to make sure that all the divers are safe. We have about a dozen Husbandry staff divers and more than 100 WAVE dive service volunteers.

There are other types of mix gas blends for different types of diving, but at Newport Aquarium, we dive basic mix gas. I also take care of the maintenance of the cylinders, which include the valve that the air comes from. I work on gear from the Buoyance Compensator Device or BCD for short, to the Full Face Mask, which is the mask that divers wear underwater, and they can talk to the guests.

Dive Signals

In this picture you can see me giving an under dive sign. A clinched fist on top of your head means that the diver is “OK” and ready to start the dive or to signal to the topside divers that they are OK after a dive.

Diver Jon

A clinched fist on top of your head means that the diver is “OK” and ready to start the dive.

I am giving my topside Standby an OK sign before I go into the Shark tank exhibit for some basic maintenance. Next time you see a dive in the water be sure to give them a high-five and a big wave.

Check out our other #TakeoverTuesday posts.

Celebrate Shark Week at Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium is the Shark Capital of the Midwest and with more shark habitats to SEA, TOUCH and EXPLORE than ever before, it’s the best place to celebrate Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Visit June 26 through July 3 to see nearly 60 sharks up-close, including sand tigers, sand bars, black tips, hammerhead, nurse shark, shark rays and more!

Newport Aquarium currently features more than a dozen species of sharks from oceans around the world.

Shark Bridge

Newport_Aquarium_Shark_Bridge_HR_--¼2015_Steve_Ziegelmeyer-0799Experience sharks like never before by crossing the world’s first Shark Bridge.

Shark Bridge is included with general admission. For thrill-seekers who dare to cross, The V-shaped rope bridge is 75-feet-long and is suspended over the open water of the 385,000 gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. As guests walk across, they’re just inches above more than two dozen sharks and shark rays.

Touch the Sharks

rsz_touching4Do you know what a shark’s skin feels like? Have you ever touched a shark fin as it glides across the water? See for yourself at Shark Central. You can touch dozens of sharks in the Shark Central Exhibit.

Learn the proper two-finger touch technique to make personal contact with these amazing animals.

Shark Talks/Dive Shows

Step into Shark Ray Bay Theater for your first and biggest view of our Shark Rays, sharks and the divers who care for them. Hear divers talk about the sharks and animals all around them and find out what you can do to protect a shark’s natural environment.

Divers even answer your questions!

Shark Ray Feed

SharkRay_Group[1]See rare Shark Rays – Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike – being fed and trained by biologists in the Surround by Sharks Exhibit.

Shark Tank Feed

Are sharks ferocious eaters? Watch and decide for yourself as biologists feed the sharks in the 385,000 gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank.

View the sharks from the Surrounded by Sharks tunnels, or get a biologists’ point-of-view from the Shark Top viewing area.

Shark Tank Overlook

Get a fascinating topside view of the Shark Rays and their friends as you look down into the Surrounded by Sharks tank from one of the country’s largest open air tank displays.

Shark Ray Pups Make Debut at Newport Aquarium

The rare shark rays born earlier this year made their official public debut today in the Coral Reef. This is the first time the public has gotten the chance to see them. The 60,000 gallon Coral Reef habitat is similar to their native surroundings in the Indo-Pacific.

Shark ray pups explore the Coral Reef. The 60,000 gallon Coral Reef habitat is similar to their native surroundings in the Indo-Pacific.

Shark ray pups explore the Coral Reef. The 60,000 gallon Coral Reef habitat is similar to their native surroundings in the Indo-Pacific.

Newport Aquarium is proud of the work of the team of biologists taking care of the pups since they were born in January.

Husbandry

Part of the Animal Care Team: Mark Dvornak, Scott Brehob, Jen Hazeres, and Jolene Hanna – standing in front of the top of the Coral Reef tank after moving the shark ray pups into the tank.

“The whole Husbandry Team is a massive support,” said Jolene Hanna, Newport Aquarium Animal Health Specialist. “Everyone has their own sub-set of talents and life experiences to share.”

The pups have reached several milestones since birth. The pups range in weight from 10 to 13 pounds and they’re around 2.5 feet long. At birth, the pups’ weight ranged from 2 to 2.4 pounds and 18 to 22 inches long.

“They’re intelligent animals, they start to recognize who is with them all the time,” said Jen Hazeres, Senior Biologist. “There is so much more to learn from them.”

Newport Aquarium shark ray pup

Shark ray pup swimming with Dory – exploring the surroundings in the Coral Reef.

Hazeres and Hanna are part of the Animal Care Team that closely monitors the pups and attends to every need. This has been a long journey for the biologists and they continue to learn from the pups and each other every day.
“They’re intelligent animals – they’re very aware of you and their surroundings,” said Hanna.

Shark rays are an amazing species with unique characteristics. The Coral Reef habitat gives Newport Aquarium guests an opportunity to get eye to eye with the shark ray pups.

Newport Aquarium shark ray pup

Get eye-to-eye with the shark ray pups as they swim overhead in the Coral Reef tunnel.

“We’re still learning about this species – so little is known about them in the wild. By having them here, under professional care, we’re learning their growth rate and so much more,” said biologist Scott Brehob.

With the debut of shark ray pups in the Coral Reef, Newport Aquarium is happy to kickoff the Summer Family Hours Special.

 

2 Kids Get In Free!
Families can make a splash this summer with Newport Aquarium’s Summer Family Hours Special – for tickets purchased online only. Now through September 2nd, up to two kids get in for free after 4 p.m. with each adult paying full price Sunday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.newportaquarium.com.

Six Amazing Facts About Shark Rays

Newport Aquarium prepares to make history as the rare shark ray pups born earlier this year make their public debut later this week, on Friday, June 24, 2016. Newport Aquarium made history in 2005 when Sweet Pea arrived, becoming the first shark ray on exhibit in the Western Hemisphere. Shark rays are native to the western Indo-Pacific, and are found on sandy and mud bottoms near coral reefs. Newport Aquarium started the first Shark Ray Breeding program in 2007, with the introduction of Spike, which made Newport Aquarium home to the most shark rays on exhibit in the Western hemisphere. In addition to the shark ray pups, there are four adult shark rays. Two females: Sweet Pea and Sunshine, and two males: Scooter and Spike.

Newport Aquarium Shark Rays

Four shark rays are on exhibit at Newport Aquarium: Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike.

SweetPea, Shark Ray

Adult shark rays like Sweet Pea have lighter coloration.

Not sharks or rays
Shark rays are neither sharks nor rays. Their scientific name is Rhina ancylostoma. Their common name is Bowmouth Guitarfish – their broad arc-shaped head is similar to a bow, and their body tapers into a more streamlined shape, much like that of sharks.

 

 

Human-like Eyes
Shark rays have dual fins and human-like eyes.

Adult shark ray

Shark rays have human-like eyes.

When they’re born, shark rays have very dark coloration. Their color changes with age. Young shark rays have brown bodies, pale ring-shaped spots covering their pectoral fins, and black bars (almost like stripes) between their eyes. Adults have charcoal or pale gray bodies with small white spots.

 

 

They Blend In
Shark rays use their spots for camouflage. Our biologists have observed: shark rays have the ability to adapt their coloration to their environment. When they’re swimming

Newport Aquarium shark ray pup

Juvenile shark rays, like this pup, have darker coloration.

over a lighter sand/gravel, they tend to be lighter colored. When they’re in darker areas and swimming over a darker bottom, they tend to be darker, and their spots are darker.

Teeth Grinders
Shark rays eat shellfish including lobster and shrimp, which live on the ocean floor. Their heavily-ridged teeth are like coffee grinders that crush prey with hard shells.

Prehistoric Protection
They look almost prehistoric. Shark rays are born with a dorsal “thorn ridge” – unusual spiked ridges over their eyes, nape, and pectoral fins, which they use for protection.

No Schoolin’ Around
Shark rays don’t “school” like fish. They’re a solitary species. They prefer to swim on their own, and choose their own separate areas.

Shark Ray Pups Born at Newport Aquarium Will Make Public Debut on June 24, 2016

In Honor Of World Ocean’s Day, Aquarium Makes Historic Announcement

Today, in honor of World Oceans Day, Newport Aquarium announced that the rare shark rays born earlier this year are ready to make their public debut. This will be the first time the five month old shark ray pups have been on exhibit.  The public is invited to see them in the aquarium’s 55,000 gallon Coral Reef tunnel exhibit beginning Friday, June 24.

Since being born on January 5, the shark ray pups have received care from Newport Aquarium biologists, who have closely monitored them and attended to every need.

See shark ray pups being weighed, measured and fed in this video

“It’s getting more and more difficult for shark rays to survive in their natural environment,” said Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium. “Without the work Newport Aquarium is doing, long-term survival of this species wouldn’t be possible.”

Programs like Newport Aquarium’s Shark Ray Breeding Program are important, because the world’s shark ray population is depleting at a faster rate than it is being replaced. This is due to habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and the use of their fins for products like fin soup.

Aquarium biologists will determine the exact number of pups that will go into the Coral Reef tunnel exhibit as June 24 draws nearer.

Shark Ray Breeding Program Background
In October 2015, Newport Aquarium announced both its female shark rays, Sweet Pea and Sunshine were pregnant– the second and third documented cases of shark ray breeding under professional animal care in the world. Sweet Pea became the first documented shark ray to become pregnant in 2013. In January 2016, Sweet Pea gave birth to 9 shark ray pups. Five survived, which is not uncommon with similar species, like sharks.  Sunshine’s pregnancy did not come to full term.

World Oceans Day
Every year, World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. Learn more about World Oceans Day here.

$5 Kid Saver Special
Families can make a splash this summer with Newport Aquarium’s Kid Saver Special. Now through June 30th, 2016, up to two kids get in for $5 each with every adult paying full price, Sunday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for tickets purchased online.

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