Our Gulf Exhibit Continues to Grow

January 15, 2011 | Tag(s): Gulf of Mexico, sand tiger, shark
By: Noel, Sea Otter Trainer
Gulf of Mexico Exhibit

            You may notice some changes to our biggest exhibit! The husbandry staff at the Audubon Aquarium are very excited about a brand new addition to a favorite exhibit, Gulf of Mexico. With a special thanks to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach South Carolina, we would like to introduce you to our newest sand tiger shark!

            Sand tiger’s may look ferocious, but they are actually very placid and normally a slow moving shark. They inhabit many different coastal areas including Australia, the Pacific coasts of Asia, parts of Africa, along the Mediterranean coasts of Europe, and the Atlantic coasts of the United States (including the Gulf of Mexico).

            These sharks can be seen swimming at depths up 630 feet deep and are known at times to be powerful swimmers. Sand Tiger’s can grow up to 11 feet long and weigh as much as 600 lbs! They eat a wide variety of food including different fish, younger sharks and rays, squid, and crustaceans.

            Sand Tiger sharks have an interesting reproductive cycle! They become sexually mature at about 7 years of age. Female sharks actually have 2 uteri. In each uterus embryos will develop, eat the yolk sac and then each other until only two embryos remain. After lengthy years! –that’s right 2 years! the females give birth to their young. The young are usually only about 3 feet long at birth.

This complex reproductive process and the fact that they only live to be approximately 15-16 years old all contribute to why this protected species has not been able to rebound from hunting and other threats to the species. They are considered a species of concern today.

            Here at the Audubon Aquarium, we have always had a strong interest in housing vanishing animals as part of our mission of conservation and education. Today we house 2 sand tiger sharks and we are very excited that our population is growing!

Currently known as “number 9” our newest addition weighs approximately 110lbs and is over 6 ½ feet long! We estimate his age to be about 3-4 years old. Stop by the Deep Gulf exhibit and have a look! & don't forget about the Gulf chat every day at 1!