What’s that? You want to see a baby shark? Well, look no further than the Science of Sharks exhibit, located in the lower level of the Aquarium’s West Wing. In addition to the adult sharks in the larger tanks in the gallery, there is also a corner dedicated specifically to shark pups!
Visitors that venture over to the shark nursery and display of shark egg cases will be treated to an intriguing glimpse into the world of a young cartilaginous fish. There are, in fact, two different ways in which sharks have their young. Some sharks are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs that are hatched outside the mother’s body. This is the case for coral catsharks and epaulette sharks, the two most prominent species in the Science of Sharks exhibit.
On the other hand, some shark species give live birth, otherwise known as being viviparous. This birth type is exhibited in sand tiger sharks, one of the local New England species that was a focus of the shark programming provided by the Visitor Experience department this past summer. Sand tiger sharks are particularly interesting in that the mother shark has several different embryos in her womb. Those that are fertilized first eventually eat the others contained within (oof!), and then are born live.
Though we do not have these sharks at the Aquarium, sand tiger sharks are a local New England species. In fact, this species is being tracked by the research team in the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. Learn more about the work of Dr. Jeff Kneebone on the Anderson Cabot Center blog.
We are lucky enough at the New England Aquarium to have a variety of shark species for visitors to interact with at The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank, and in the Science of Sharks exhibit. Make sure to stop by both exhibits during your next Aquarium visit, and take a moment to gander at the shark nursery as well! The shark pups are waiting to greet you.