Posts Tagged 'blacktip reef sharks'

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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Thoughtful Thursdays: The Role Sharks Play in Maintaining Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

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Sharks, like almost no other animal on this planet, capture our thoughts and imagination – deservedly so. These animals have been around for hundreds of millions of years and have evolved into almost every shape and size. They can be the size of a bus or the size of your smart phone. They can bear live young or lay eggs in open water. They can feed on the smallest plankton or on whale carcasses. They can spend most of their lives on a relatively small section of the sea floor or migrate more than a thousand miles.

Despite their incredible diversity, most species of sharks have several things in common. They generally take a long time to reach reproductive age and have few offspring and although some species can tolerate fresh water, most live in salt water their entire lives. Most are also apex predators and their numbers are declining in ecologically significant ways. A coral reef ecosystem and the incredibly diverse plant and animal community it supports, is directly impacted by the health and abundance of sharks as apex predators – and vice versa.

blacktip reef sharks

Our new exhibit, Blacktip Reef, represents an entire coral reef ecosystem!

When we talk about the real and urgent threats sharks are facing – overfishing, shark finning, bycatch and habitat destruction, we are inclined to focus on the issues that are less diffuse, and quite frankly, issues where the blame lies with others. All we have to do is fix the bad habits of others and we can save the world.

While bycatch, overfishing and finning are vitally important to address (70-100 million sharks are killed annually due to these problems alone), we can’t forget that we also need to protect the places – like coral reefs – they depend upon to survive. If we want to ensure the health of our marine species, we’ll need to reverse the widespread destruction of vital coral reef, mangrove, grass bed and wetland habitats. These are nursery or feeding grounds for sharks and other species. Protection of habitat is tightly linked to the well-being of the animals we care so much about.

We are losing these habitats at alarming rates and for a variety of reasons. Climate change and ocean acidification are threatening our coral reefs, coastal development and sea level rise are jeopardizing our important mangrove and wetland areas, and sedimentation and destructive fishing practices are killing our underwater grass beds. If we are going to protect sharks and other ocean species, we’ll need to also focus on these issues. But this time, when we look for the person to blame, we need to accept some personal responsibility. We, as individuals and as a society, are responsible for – and have the power to mitigate for climate change, to make sure development happens in responsible ways, to decrease our collective carbon footprints. We need to hold ourselves responsible for our own individual contributions to this problem and we need to hold each other accountable.

The good news is, as we make strides to restore and protect healthy habitats, the lasting effects cascade throughout the ecosystem – creating supportive environments for healthy plant and animal communities. The better news is we can do something today to make a difference! Volunteer with the National Aquarium or other local conservation organization to restore vital aquatic habitats, choose seafood that has been caught in ways that doesn’t harm sharks, or take a step to reduce your carbon footprint. Sharks deserve our help. Join us!

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Blacktip Reef Shark Cam: Watch Our New Exhibit In Action!

Twenty sleek, fast-moving blacktip reef sharks are now happily exploring their new home in Blacktip Reef!

Just as they are a vital element to coral reef ecosystems in nature, these sharks are one of the final and most important pieces of our new exhibit, the most comprehensive re-creation of an Indo-Pacific coral reef in the country.

Can’t make it to Baltimore to see Blacktip Reef in person? You can now virtually step into the exhibit and meet hundreds of aquatic animals by checking out our underwater Blacktip Reef Shark Cam!

shark week cam

Through a partnership with Discovery Channel and Shark Week, we’re excited to be able to share our exhibit virtually and hope to inspire conservation of these amazing animals AND their equally fragile habitats!

Blacktip Reef Update: Hundreds of Fish Introduced to the Exhibit!

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Hundreds of tropical fish have just been introduced to their new home, our Blacktip Reef exhibit!

Each of these fish plays an important role in making Blacktip Reef a complete and functional ecosystem. Guests will be able to see how species school together and interact with each other – some will connect through play while others will through important symbiotic behaviors like cleaning.

Over the next two weeks, the fish will be given time to settle into their new home. At the end of this month, larger animals including our blacktip reef sharks and rays will be introduced to the exhibit!

Stay tuned for more updates as Blacktip Reef continues to come to life! 

Blacktip Reef Update: A Reef Comes to Life!

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We’ve been working diligently on our new exhibit, Blacktip Reefand are excited to announce that you can now join us for its final stage and watch the reef come to life!

blacktip reef coral national aquarium

After months of construction, guests are now able to pass through the entire exhibit space and view the new Blue Wonders: Reefs to Rainforests experience, which includes the Aquarium’s iconic bubble tubes! They’re BACK! 

National Aquarium Bubble Tubes

Throughout Blue Wonders, guests are encouraged to explore their connection to water, starting with a stunning video wall installation created by award-winning photographer/videographer, Bob Talbot, and ending with an interactive word and photo wall.

Blue Wonders Wall National Aquarium

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Blue Wonders also introduces guests to our brand new Blacktip Reef exhibit, a 260,000 gallon habitat featuring a colorful Indo-Pacific reef landscape. Guests are able to experience this lively reef from many vantage points, including a new floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window that allows you to virtually step inside the exhibit!

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Over the next several weeks, visitors will be able to watch Blacktip Reef come to life as we introduce 1,200 animals from 75 species, including our blacktip reef sharks by the end of July. During this time, our education team will also be on-hand, giving presentations on what it takes to bring an exhibit of this magnitude to Baltimore.

education presentation in Blacktip Reef National Aquarium

We’re excited to have you continue this amazing journey with us!

For real-time updates on Blacktip Reef, continue to visit our WATERblog!  


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