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Feeding the Sharks
There are different kinds of shark in many exhibits throughout the Aquarium—from the new Science of Sharks exhibit to the Northern Waters gallery to the Giant Ocean Tank to the shark and ray touch tank. While they may look different and live in different habitats, they all need to eat. Here’s a look at how we feed some of the sharks in our exhibits!
Sharks in the Science of Sharks Exhibit
There are 15 sharks in the warm-water adult tank in the new Science of Sharks exhibit. You’ll find coral catsharks, epaulette sharks, and Halmahera walking sharks. They normally rest amid the coral crevices or crawl along the replica reef on their flippers, but they sure get riled during feeding time! The easiest way to feed them is by accessing the front of the tank, which means we cannot do it while visitors are in the exhibit (you don’t want us blocking the view with a ladder, do you?!). But don’t worry! We recorded a bit of the action for you to watch.
Feeding Sharks in the Science of Sharks Exhibit
These sharks eat a variety of fish, including shrimp, herring, and silversides. After breakfast is cut up into bite-size pieces, senior aquarist Sarah Tempesta scrambles up the ladder to scatter morsels into the open spaces of the tank. You may have noticed some of the sharks are fed directly from a feeding stick. That’s because they might be a little shy or less aggressive than the others, and we want to make sure they get enough food.
Baby Sharks in Science of Sharks Exhibit
The domed tank in the new exhibit features baby coral catsharks and epaulette sharks. They are fed by Sarah from behind the scenes, which means that it can happen anytime during the day. Visitors love to watch the youngsters erupt from beneath the rock habitat in the exhibit and swirl around looking for a bite to eat!
Bonnethead Sharks in the Giant Ocean Tank
Our largest exhibit has two bonnethead sharks right now. Feeding sharks in our Caribbean reef tank is a little more challenging, so Curator of Husbandry and Sustainability Barbara Bailey and her team have trained these relatives of the hammerhead shark to target to a hammock. The sling is secured to a platform at the top of the 200,000-gallon exhibit and when the sharks touch their nose to the orange ball and swim through the hammock, they get their tasty fish and squid meal. This behavior is helpful because it allows the care team to get good looks at the animals and make sure they’re healthy and thriving.
Feeding Sharks in the Giant Ocean Tank
There’s more to the training of sharks, too! Learn more about how and why these intelligent sharks have been trained to target feed in our new Science of Sharks exhibit. Barbara gives a fascinating explanation of the process and lets us in on the fascinating behavior and characteristics of sharks.
Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank
You’ll find epaulette sharks, coral catsharks, and zebra bullnose sharks in our popular touch tank. The sharks and rays are fed via the scatter method several times a day, since the rays like to graze throughout the day. It’s interesting to watch the animals’ energy level build as soon as they smell food in the water!
This is hardly a comprehensive list of all the feeding methods for all the sharks at the Aquarium. There are cold-water sharks up in the Northern Waters gallery and in our Science of Sharks exhibit, plus baby sharks in our slant tank near the Edge of the Sea touch tank. Plan a visit to the New England Aquarium to see our new exhibit, but stay for the sharks in all corners of our building!