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 Aquatic Biologist, Scott Brehob

We’re starting something new on our social media channels, where we’ll feature a “day in the life” of biologists, and exhibits staff. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

I’m Scott Brehob, Aquatic Biologist at Newport Aquarium, and I am excited to help kick off the first ever #TakeoverTuesday for Newport Aquarium! I started working here the summer the aquarium opened in 1999. One major thing that I love about working here is educating people about all the amazing animals in our oceans, rivers, and lakes of the world. Through my many years working at Newport Aquarium, I have had the joy of doing this in several different facets. From talking to the guest directly on the front line to caring for the animals and making amazing exhibit as an Aquarist. I start my day feeding the nearly two dozen sharks in Shark Central. The coolest thing about this exhibit is we have sharks from all over the world! South Africa, Australia, West Coast United States, East Coast United States.

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Scott Brehob, Aquatic Biologist

When guests come through the aquarium, most people would never guess there are nearly two dozen sharks in Shark Central until they have the rare chance to get to see a feed time for the exhibit.  When the sharks in Shark Central eat, the tank is full of energy as all sharks that were sleeping start swimming around the exhibit getting their share of food. There is so much splashing and swimming, that we do not allow touching of the animals for around 30 minutes after a feed to let the animals calm down.

I use two different styles of feeding techniques in this exhibit to make sure all the animals get the food they need.  I “broadcast feed” shrimp in the exhibit two to three times a week. That is a form of hand feeding, where you scatter/drop the food throughout the water. This wakes up the sharks that were sleeping, and it spreads out all the sharks. At the same time, I use tongs to “target feed” squid to the larger sharks and even some of the smaller ones that I want to get extra food.

egg casing

Egg casing from Port Jackson Horn shark, PJ.

This is an egg casing from PJ, our adult Port Jackson horn shark.  These eggs are exactly like a chicken egg, they just look radically different. The fins that run around the egg are one way egg-laying sharks have evolved to make sure that their eggs are not washed up on shore. PJ lays anywhere from one to about 10 eggs most months unfortunately we do not have any males Port Jackson sharks so her eggs will never be fertile but she keeps laying them just like hens do.

Meet our youngest Port Jackson horn shark, Lil Bit (some people call her Sheila).

Port Jackson (2)

This juvenile Port Jackson horn shark hatched at Newport Aquarium.

This juvenile Port Jackson horn shark came to the aquarium as an egg. Thanks to proper care in our Tide Pool exhibit, she hatched about 4 years ago. Now that she is grown up and big enough, she gets to live in Shark Central, our shark touch tank.

This is a striped catshark or pajama (pyjama) shyshark.

Striped catsharks

Striped catsharks, also called pajama/pyjama shysharks swim up to eat squid.

 

When this exhibit space first opened, we originally had another exhibit featuring South African animals.  Several of our staff got the chance to go to South Africa and help collect some of the original animals with the help of Two Oceans Aquarium in South Africa. They brought back a select few specimens, including three native South African striped catsharks for the exhibit. Over the years, the three original catsharks laid eggs, and those eggs hatched here at the Newport Aquarium giving us the eight stripped catsharks that are now in Shark Central. Some of the striped catsharks you will see and touch here are  living in the same exhibit as their parents.

Midwest shark scientist begins groundbreaking research on secret lives of sharks

By: Nick Whitney, Senior Research Scientist

We announced last fall, the arrival of Dr. Nick Whitney at Newport Aquarium. Read more here: Newport Aquarium announced Renowned Shark Scientist, Nick Whitney, joined the Newport Aquarium team.

From the time I was a young kid growing up in Michigan I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up: a garbage man. What could be better than riding around on the back of a truck all day, wearing whatever you want, and playing your music at full blast?

As I grew up I tried various other jobs: I umpired softball but was always getting screamed at by half the people (the half that knew the rules). I worked construction for a while but accidentally shot my boss in the hand with a nail gun (he handled it well). I worked in an aquarium store but got fired for missing too much work (spring break trip to Florida).

With all of these career failures during high school, college seemed like a logical choice for me. I was intrigued by the work of Dr. Jeff Carrier, a professor at nearby Albion College (Albion, MI), who was studying sharks in the Florida Keys. A shark scientist in the Midwest? What a concept!

I had been fascinated with sharks all my life, and my experience in the aquarium industry (including breeding some endangered species in a series of tanks in my bedroom), made me the closest thing to a marine biology student that this professor could find at a small liberal arts college in Michigan.

Jeff took the time to meet with me and eventually invited me to come to Albion and help him with his shark research. It took me about half a second to accept this invitation, and as an undergraduate I spent three summers capturing, tagging, and tracking nurse sharks on their mating grounds in the Florida Keys. I had the time of my life – no one screamed at me, there were no nail guns, and my boss was the one sending me on spring break trips to Florida.

whitney-right-tagging

Nick Whitney tags a nurse shark while on a tagging exhibition  in the Florida Keys, as an undergrad at Albion College. Photo Credit: Dr. Jeffrey C. Carrier

I learned how to handle myself on the water and how to handle sharks without getting bitten (most of the time). I also learned science skills that made me a good candidate for graduate school at the University of Hawaii.

Working in Hawaii for 8 years and Florida for another 7 after that put me on the front lines of shark research, and in the process I started learning how to use a new type of tag called an accelerometer.

These tags use the same sensors found in Fitbits, smartphones, and video game controllers to reveal fine-scale details about the secret lives of sharks. I’ll talk more about these cool tools/toys in an upcoming post.

It’s now 2017 and you can do whatever you want from almost anywhere! Take it from a shark scientist working for an organization in Boston, MA (New England Aquarium) living in Cincinnati, OH, working in Newport, KY, who still does much of his fieldwork in Florida. It sounds complicated, and it took some time to set up, but so far it’s fantastic.

My research now focuses largely on what happens to sharks after they are caught and released by fishermen. Our tags allow us to determine whether the sharks live or die, and how long it takes them to recover and start swimming normally again.

I’m also involved with exciting research on the behavior of sea turtles and other species, and all of my work involves a heavy logistical component. By that I mean we often have to design and build new tag packages for different projects. So I spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas on how we can combine different tags, how we can attach them to animals, and how we can get them back.

sharktagging20150805_-19_small

This is one of the things I am excited to work on with my new colleagues at Newport Aquarium. I now have easy access to a number of different sharks and rays (and other species) just 20 minutes from my house. We will be taking advantage of this in the coming months by testing a number of different tag packages and attachment styles, some of which you may see on animals when you visit the aquarium.

The whole goal is to figure out the best way of attaching these tags so that they will stay on the animals without inhibiting them. This takes a lot of trial and error, so don’t be surprised if most of the tags you see are in various stages of falling off the shark. That means we’re learning!

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Photo Credit: Rob Nelson, UntamedScience.com

I’ll also be helping the biologists at Newport Aquarium to formalize and publicize some of the research they have already been doing over the past several years. This includes some groundbreaking work in breeding and rearing shark rays that reminds me a lot of my work with mating nurse sharks in the Keys. So exciting!

Now my kids get to come to Newport Aquarium almost weekly and are blown away by the place. They try very hard not to admit that their uncool dad has a cool job, but once they start walking through the exhibits they go bonkers. My 2 year old wakes up in the middle of the night and says, “Go see Dory?”

They may grow up to be garbage men, or umpires, or construction workers, or most likely some career that doesn’t even exist today. But if they decide to be shark scientists, they have every reason to believe they can do that from here, or anywhere in the country.

 

 

 

Renowned Shark Scientist Joins Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium Takes Research Efforts to Next Level 

NEWPORT, Ky. — Thanks to a partnership with New England Aquarium, Newport Aquarium has created a new Senior Research Scientist position. Dr. Nick Whitney, Ph.D. is the new researcher working with the two institutions, and is now in residence at Newport Aquarium.

“This partnership speaks to the reach of the aquarium. We are now expanding our scope and commitment to wildlife conservation through leading-edge shark research,” said Eric Rose, Executive Director at Newport Aquarium.

Dr. Nick Whitney

Dr. Nick Whitney, new Senior Research Scientist

The opportunity for a dedicated research position presented itself when Dr. Whitney relocated to Cincinnati after more than seven years with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. He then joined the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium, and thanks to some great collaboration with these leading institutions, Dr. Whitney will work in residence right here at Newport Aquarium.

“I’m looking forward to taking research and conservation efforts here at Newport Aquarium to more of a national and international level. I’m excited to join this team of dedicated biologists and build upon their impressive research efforts that have the potential to improve animal care and field conservation around the world,” said Whitney.

Whitney’s research uses high-tech tags called accelerometers (the same motion sensors found in smartphones and Fitbits) to measure fine-scale movements of animals to study their behavior and answer questions that can’t be addressed through traditional tags. His current research with New England Aquarium focuses on whether sharks survive after being caught and released by fishermen.

At Newport, Whitney looks forward to contributing to ongoing research around the Aquarium’s groundbreaking shark ray breeding program, developing and testing new types of shark tags and attachment methods, and helping to increase the conservation impact of this research.

“We are fortunate to have the talents of Dr. Whitney on staff. He will also be supporting the animal husbandry team by leading our own in-house research, then publishing our original research in leading journals and publications,” said Eric Rose.

Dr. Whitney has conducted research on sharks, sea turtles, and other species and has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel among others. He has worked with the conservation group OCEARCH to tag adult great white sharks off of Cape Cod, and his research has been supported by a variety of funding sources, including the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Geographic Society.

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

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Newport Aquarium, named one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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National Veterinary Technician Week 2016

This week is National Veterinary Technician Week. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes veterinary technicians for their contributions in animal healthcare. Vet Techs are educated professionals who work closely with veterinarians to ensure the best quality of care for animals. We’d like to recognize Jolene Hanna, the Animal Health & Quarantine Manager and Veterinary Technician at Newport Aquarium. Thank you, Jolene for all that you do!

Jolene Hanna, RVT Animal Health & Quarantine Manager at Newport Aquarium, feeds a shark behind the scenes.

Jolene Hanna, RVT Animal Health & Quarantine Manager at Newport Aquarium, feeds a shark behind the scenes.

Why did you choose to become a vet tech?

“I always wanted to work with animals. As a teenager, I worked as kennel help at the local vet hospital and was given the opportunity to go out on farm calls and to watch surgeries on a regular basis.”

Hanna received her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology. “I always wanted to work with dolphins.”

As fate would have it, she ended up working with a completely different species – sharks! She helped launch the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding program, and ended up working with sharks here at Newport Aquarium.

After college, Hanna joined AmeriCorps and completed the Vet Tech program before coming to work at Newport Aquarium.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

“The possibilities are limitless. I don’t have a ‘typical’ day. I could be in the Antarctic or I could be diving in the Amazon tank. There’s always something new to learn.”

Something new, such as taking part in research projects.  “Taking part in scientific research. I did a study on birth control implants on freshwater stingrays.”

Hanna makes tank-side visits with animals at Newport Aquarium. “I never would have imagined I’d be doing this, but this is what I do.”

What has been your most memorable moment during your career?

“Definitely, working with the shark rays – it’s been a long journey! It’s an opportunity to work with a first of its kind program in the world.”

“We’re part of (kind of) a new industry, working with sharks. What we learn, we’re sharing the knowledge with other institutions. We have become better stewards for the species. This is my contribution to something that is globally influential. I’m putting my fingerprint on it.”

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.