Archive for the 'Sharks' Category

Blacktip Reef Update: Exhibit Thrives in Its First Six Months!

As our teams mark the six-month anniversary of Blacktip Reef, we’re happy to report that our newest exhibit continues to thrive and evolve!

This Indo-Pacific reef habitat is now home to 779 animals representing 70 species including blacktip reef sharks, clown triggerfish, tasseled wobbegongs, a humphead wrasse, stingrays, a green sea turtle and more!

Here’s a re-cap of some of the exciting things that have happened in Blacktip Reef over the last six months: 

  • The Aquarium has welcomed over 381,000 visitors in the six months since Blacktip Reef opened on August 8th!
  • More than 46,000 students have experienced the new exhibit.
  • As part of our ongoing partnership with Discovery Channel, our live Shark Cam has reached over 2.6 million viewers!
  • Our education and biological programs teams have shared more than 1,400 interactive presentations, shark feedings, diver talks and education carts with the public.
  • According to data collected by IMPACTS Research & Development, the opening of Blacktip Reef has further enhanced the National Aquarium’s reputation as one of the “top three” aquariums in the United States!

We’re proud to have created not only a beautiful exhibit, but one that has inspired our guests to care about Indo-Pacific coral reefs and their inhabitants, and to feel they have a stake in our mission to preserve and protect them!

For more information on how Blacktip Reef is doing after its first six months, check out our full press release.

Have you had the opportunity to visit Blacktip Reef? Share your experience with us in the comments section! 

2013 Re-cap: The Making of Blacktip Reef

This year, many of us here at the Aquarium had one thing on the brain - Blacktip Reef

From demolition to animal acquisitions, construction to animal introductions, countless hours of work from all of our departments went into the creation of this $12.5 million dollar exhibit!

As 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to look back at how Blacktip Reef was made: 

Animal Transports

Before construction could begin on our new exhibit, the animals in our old Wings in the Water exhibit had to be safely removed!

Many of the animals that called Wings in the Water home, like our zebra sharks (Zeke and Zoe) and green sea turtle (Calypso) were moved behind-the-scenes, where they could patiently await the creation of their new home. Others were moved to other exhibits at the Aquarium or to other accredited institutions.

Want to see how we transport animals like our 500+ pound sea turtle? Check out our video:

Construction

After all the animals had been safely removed from the exhibit space and the necessary demolition was finished, the construction phase could begin!

Blacktip Reef‘s construction process included the installation of a 28 foot acrylic window and the individual placement of over 3,000 coral pieces, creating the perfect re-creation of an Indo-Pacific reef habitat.

Want to see how all of that coral was crafted by hand? Check out our video: 

Animal Introductions

The process of introducing animals into the exhibit began in early July, with the transport of Calypso!

Calypso

After Calypso and a few hundred fish had acclimated well to their new home, all 20 of our blacktip reef sharks were added to the exhibit.

In October, our last animals were introduced into the exhibit! Over the period of two weeks, we added three wobbegong sharks and a huge Napoleon wrasse!

national aquarium humphead wrasse

It has been an incredibly busy and rewarding year. From all of us here at the Aquarium, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone for their continued support!

Here’s how YOU can support the continued growth and evolution of our newest exhibit!

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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Happy Birthday, Zeke!

Our zebra shark, Zeke, is turning four-years-old today (and on the 4th of November, no less)!

Zeke and our second zebra shark, Zoe, have a very close relationship. They can often be seen hanging out together in the sandy, flat areas of Blacktip Reef!

national aquarium zebra sharks zeke and zoe

Hint: Zeke is the much smaller one!

As juveniles, zebra sharks have dark bodies with yellowish stripes. As they mature, their patterning changes to small dark spots. Zeke is starting to lose his stripes – soon, he’ll be covered in spots, like Zoe!

In addition to their distinctive spots, our zebra sharks can be easily recognized by their impressively long tails!

Couldn’t make it down to wish Zeke a Happy Birthday in person today? Catch him on our Shark Cam


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