Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes New Shark Pups

Fleshy-bearded spotted wobbegong shark pups born

The Georgia Aquarium is excited to announce the arrival of 12 new spotted wobbegong shark pups. The pups were born last week in the Ocean Voyager exhibit built by The Home Depot. Their average weight at birth was 2.6 oz (74 grams) and 8.3 in (21 cm).

Native to coastal Australia, the spotted wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus) is ovoviviparous, meaning a developing pup feeds from a yolk sac of its egg retained internally within the female and is later born fully formed. Biologists diving in the exhibit found the pups last week. The new pups are in good health and are currently in the Education Loop Aqua Lab aquaculture laboratory, where biologists can easily monitor and track their progression. The pups can be seen in person by going on any of the Behind the Scenes Tours that the Aquarium offers.

“We are proud to welcome the new shark pups to the Georgia Aquarium family.” said Mike Leven, CEO of Georgia Aquarium. “We believe that it is important for guests to see all stages of development in our animals, especially birth.”

This unusual shark is a master of camouflage with a mottled pattern on its body that makes it virtually disappear against the sand and algae-covered ocean floor. It can even change color, over several days’ time, to adjust to environmental changes. The beard of fleshy tassels further obscures the outline of the shark’s head, making it very hard to tell where the animal stops and the bottom begins.

The spotted wobbegongs are among the third species of shark pups born at the Aquarium. Previous births include zebra sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) and bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo).
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