Posts Tagged 'blacktip reef'



A Blue View: Surprising Sharks

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

August 28, 2013: Surprising Sharks

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John and aquarist Jackie Cooper
discuss the hundreds of species of lesser-known
sharks that inhabit our oceans! 

John Racanelli: In your mind’s eye, picture a shark for a moment. Perhaps it’s 9 or 10 feet long, with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and a menacing look. Now, take that mental image…and forget it. Today, we’re going to talk about the sharks that people seldom consider, the hundreds of species of smaller shark that inhabit every ocean on our planet. With me today is Jackie Cooper, our Senior Assistant Dive Safety Officer Aquarist at the National Aquarium. Thanks for joining me, Jackie!

Jackie Cooper: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about something I’m so passionate about.

JR: How are these smaller species of shark like their larger counterparts?

JC: Well, all sharks are cartilaginous fish; they’re all carnivores; all sharks have 5 to 7 gill slits on the sides of their heads; all sharks have pectoral fins that are not fused to their heads. But that’s about where their similarities end. There is such a broad diversity of body shape and body size of sharks that is just amazing!

JR: What sizes are we talking about? 

JC: Well, the smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark, which is only about 7.5 inches long. From there, they range up to the whale shark, which can be as large as 40 to 60 feet.

JR: So with these smaller sharks, it sounds like they really average to be relatively small compared to even humans. 

JC: Probably half of all the known shark species are 5.5 feet or smaller, and of that, half of the overall shark species numbers are shorter than 3 feet.

JR: Tell me a little bit more about those smaller sharks and their role in the food chain.

JC: We tend to think of sharks as apex predators, being at the top of the food chain. But in fact, most of these sharks are a part of the food chain. They’re similarly important, but they don’t sit at the top of it. Another thing that people tend to forget is that people eat shark meat much more than you would consider.

We tend to think of sharks as only being consumed in shark fin soup, but if you’re in Europe and you’ve had fish and chips, it’s more than likely you were really eating a shark called the spiny dogfish. They grow to be 3.5 to 4 feet long. The females don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re about 21 years old and produce only small litters. And yet, this species is fished commercially and sold as “fish and chips.” It’s simply devastating to that population.

JR: I know that’s an important species along the Mid-Atlantic shoreline, too. Can you even find some of these species of shark being sold as food in places like Baltimore? 

JC: Certainly. There are definitely grocery stores in the Baltimore metro area that sell shark. Sometimes under names that we would not necessarily recognize as shark.

JR: Why do you think it’s important to understand these smaller species of shark? 

JC: I think the most important reason is that they’re also being threatened. It’s important to keep in mind that when you think about conservation, it’s often driven by money and the glamour, and big species of shark are very exciting to think about and talk about and look at pictures of. These smaller sharks frequently aren’t as glamorous and don’t tend to draw the same kind of funding, so they’ve been much less studied.

JR: Well, I know they contribute to healthy marine ecosystems, too. They’re obviously vital to our ocean habitats, right? 

JC: Every spot in the food chain is critical to maintaining the entire chain in a healthy manner.

JR: Jackie, I want to thank you very much for coming in to talk to us. To learn more about some of the smaller species of shark that inhabit our waters and to see a live cam of the new Blacktip Reef exhibit, visit aqua.org/ablueview.

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Blacktip Reef Sharks: Built for Speed

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As some of the newest residents here at the Aquarium, our 20 blacktip reef sharks have become a topic of fascination for both our guests and our staff.

To gear you up for the Grand Prix of Baltimore this week, we’re taking a closer look at how these sharks and our other fast fish friends are built for maximum speed!

blacktip reef shark

The bulk of a shark’s speed comes from the caudal (tail) fin, which provides it initial thrust by swaying back and forth, pushing water and propelling the shark forward.

The pectoral (side) fins provided the lift need for the shark to continue moving at a steady pace and counter gravity.

Finally, the blacktip reef shark’s iconically-tipped fin helps the animal steer itself. Together with the pectoral fins, it also help provide the animal stability!

In addition to its physical build, the skin of a shark helps streamline the animal’s movement and augment it’s speed through the water! Dermal denticles, backward facing, tiny tooth-like scales that cover a shark’s body, actually help them swim faster and more efficiently by reducing water resistance.

Watch our blacktip reef sharks in-action on our live Shark Cam

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Our 7-Day Pass is BACK – just in time for Grand Prix!

Our animals are ready for the Grand Prix of Baltimore, are you?! 

We’re excited to announce the return of our special 7-Day ticket, which allows guests to visit National Aquarium, Baltimore as many times as they like for seven consecutive days!

We’re providing this offer In celebration of the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT and this exciting time for our home city of Baltimore. There is so much to see at National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor – with this special National Aquarium seven-day ticket, you will have the opportunity to leisurely explore it all!

Guests visiting between Monday, August 26, and Monday, September 2, can purchase the special ticket and visit the Aquarium as many times as they like for seven consecutive days beginning with their first admission. The seven-day ticket is just one of several special offers for ticket buyers during Grand Prix week! The seven-day ticket offer is available to purchase online at aqua.org or onsite at National Aquarium, Baltimore. All tickets issued for August 26 through September 2 will be valid for seven full days. Visit aqua.org/grandprix for full rules and regulations. 

Grand Prix of Baltimore ticket holders can enjoy the additional benefit of accelerated entry by presenting their valid Grand Prix of Baltimore entry (e.g., pass, hand stamp, wristband) and a valid National Aquarium entry ticket between Friday, August 30, and Sunday, September 1. Accelerated entry enables these ticket holders to bypass the general admission line. Entry is subject to timed and maximum building capacity restrictions.

One of the many things visitors will be able to experience during their visit to Baltimore and National Aquarium is Blacktip Reef, our newest, coral-filled exhibit replicating an Indo-Pacific reef! The exhibit is active with life that you can experience from many vantage points, including a floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window that allows you to virtually come face-to-face with the 20 fast-moving blacktip reef sharks; Calypso, the 500+-pound sea turtle and more than 700 other animals!

 national aquarium blacktip reef shark

Our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, is just one of the many things visitors will be able to experience during their visit to National Aquarium this week!

To further encourage downtown visitors, the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT will offer 10% off all adult race tickets (except Andretti Club and Kona Grill Turn 1 Club tickets) with purchase of a National Aquarium ticket through Sunday, September 1. Customers will receive a promotional code from the Aquarium that can be redeemed online via Mission Tix by entering the code on the “Promotions and Special Offers” tab or at any Grand Prix of Baltimore box office location. Code must be presented to redeem discount. For tickets and event information, visit the official event website at RaceOnBaltimore.com.

We hope to see you downtown during Grand Prix week! 

New Blacktip Reef Resident is Fully Recovered From Surgery!

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Our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, is finally up and running! For the last month or so, my team has been hard at work transporting animals from our off-site Animal Care Center and introducing them to the new exhibit. The animals moved so far are acclimating well to their new environment. I’m happy to report that a certain animal in particular is thriving after an operation we performed on its side.

In March, the Animal Health team identified and surgically removed a 1.5 x 1.5 cm mass in a large orbiculate batfish. The operation went smoothly and this animal is now on exhibit!

orbiculate batfish

The surgery site has actually healed so well it’s now impossible for us to distinguish which of the individuals in the school was our patient. What we do know is that the orbiculate batfish is enjoying its new home.

Next time you visit the Aquarium, make sure to look for this species in Blacktip Reef!

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Check Out Our New Blacktip Reef Commercials!

Our advertising team here at the Aquarium has been hard-at-work producing all new creative pieces to represent our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef!

The commercials for our new exhibit were shot over three days. Most of the animal footage was captured at our Animal Care Center. The actors were shot in a studio and the entire piece was edited together by our partners over at MGH.

Check out our finished products: 

“Journey” 

Fun Fact: The movement of the animals featured in this commercial matched up organically with the script (those moments are rare when working with live animals)!

“Get Lost”

Fun Fact: We actually tried to match the personality of the actor with the fish appearing in the commercial. It just so happens that this actor felt well-matched with the clown triggerfish!

“Mother and Son”

Fun Fact: This commercial was actually the son’s first shoot! Pretty great for a first try!


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