Posts Tagged 'holly bourbon'

Week of Thanks: Holly Bourbon on Blacktip Reef

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, our experts (and animal residents) will be sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Our first “Week of Thanks” post comes from the Aquarium’s Curator of Fishes, Holly Bourbon

This year, I’m extremely thankful for the successful opening of our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef.

blacktip reef sharks

As I’m sure you can imagine, the process of opening an exhibit (especially one with hundreds of animals) involves a tremendous amount of planning and work. Over the course of the last year, my team and I have:

  • Transported animals out of the old exhibit space
  • Received and cared for a variety of species, including 20 juvenile blacktip reef sharks
  • Monitored the creation and execution of the new exhibit space, ensuring it was a perfect replica of a reef habitat
  • Successfully introduced 700+ animals into their new home!

While the grand opening of Blacktip Reef back in August was a huge milestone, we’re still hard at work every day making sure that all of our animals are happy and healthy as they continue adjusting to this brand-new environment.

national aquarium fish introduction

My introduction of a slingjaw wrasse into Blacktip Reef in July!

New exhibits require a lot of time and work. I’m thankful that we’ve all had the opportunity to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our guests and learn a lot about our new neighbors in the process!

Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the process, start-to-finish, of creating Blacktip Reef:

What are YOU thankful for this year? Tell us in the comments section!

An Update on Our Sandbark Shark Pup, Chloe!

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I’m happy to report that our sandbark shark pup Chloe is thriving in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit – where she has been since the end of June

national aquarium sandbar shark

Photo via Jeff Mauritzen.

In the last few months, Chloe has been enjoying a steady diet of mackerel, squid, shrimp, herring and capelin! The diet of each Aquarium resident is measured out (based on their weight) and fed carefully, to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of nutrition. At the moment, Chloe is eating about .2 lbs of food at each meal!

Since her birth back in May, Chloe has grown to be about 10 lbs in weight and about 2.5 feet in length!

Do you have a question about Chloe, her species or just sharks in general? Ask me in the comments section! 

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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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Sawfish Granted Endangered Species Protection

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Earlier this month, the National Marine Fisheries Services granted sawfish protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

largetooth sawfish

Sawfish are one of the most, if not the most, imperiled groups of cartilaginous fish. Like most sharks and rays,  late maturity and low reproduction rates make these animals vulnerable to over-exploitation. Additionally, their toothed “saw” often gets caught in fishing gear and nets, making them susceptible to bycatch. As a result of these threats, populations of sawfish have reportedly declined by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.

All seven recognized species of sawfish are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Nationally however, earlier petitions to grant sawfish similar protection under the ESA have not been successful. The first listing, of the smalltooth sawfish, occured in April of 2003. The largetooth sawfish was listed under the ESA in August of 2011. With the freshwater and largetooth species recently being synonymized, all are now protected under the ESA, including the two living here at the Aquarium.

largetooth sawfish

One of the largetooth sawfish that live in our Shark Alley exhibit.

The designation to list all species of sawfish is a positive step forward for these animals. The hope is that through collaboration with other aquariums, research biologists, conservation groups and NGOs we can assist in the recovery of sawfish populations worldwide.

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Great White Shark Spotted Off New Jersey Coast

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Last week, reports surfaced that a 16-foot-long great white shark was spotted off the coast of New Jersey, near Atlantic City. While the sighting caused a good deal of commotion, great whites are actually spotted on occasion in our area.

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The great white spotted off the NJ coast. Photo: Rob Pompilio

Additionally, species like the smooth and spiny dogfish, sandbar sharks and sand tiger sharks are also found in our area. In the summer months, tiger, dusky, common threshers, shortfin makos and blue sharks will also frequent the deeper waters in our area.

It’s important to note that shark attacks are rare. Sharks are not the “man-eating machines” they are often perceived to be. In fact, species like the great white far prefer seals and other marine mammals as their choice meal. Shark incidents usually occur if the animal mistakes a human for prey.

To avoid any confusion with these animals, here are some important safety tips for beach-goers this summer: 

  • Don’t swim alone.
  • Don’t swim at dawn or dusk.
  • Avoid areas where seals live.
  • Don’t swim in areas where you see active bait (small fish) near shore.

In reality, sharks have more to fear from us than we do from them. Over 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. Did you know great white sharks are a federally protected species? From bycatch (when animals are caught unintentionally) to shark finning (the practice of slicing off the fins of a live shark and then discarding the animal at sea), even the largest predatory fish on Earth is not immune to human-related threats.

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