Sand tigers help share conservation message.
Sand tiger explores its new home at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Natalie Sommer/ABQ BioPark.
August 10, 2012
Three new sand tigers, two males and one female, are now swimming in the ABQ BioPark Aquarium's Shark Tank. The sand tigers join four other species of sharks that visitors can see glide through the 285,000-gallon exhibit.
The five-foot long sharks traveled from Ocean City, Maryland in a custom outfitted semi-truck, with a large oval tank, filtration systems and oxygen tanks. An aquarist monitored water quality, system operation and animal health during the entire trip. After arriving on the evening of August 3, the new sharks adjusted to their aquarium home easily and ate mackerel on their first morning in Albuquerque.
"We are thrilled to have these sharks on exhibit where they will help promote conservation for their species," said Holly Casman, Aquarium Manager. "Visitors have the chance to experience sharks up-close and learn about their beauty and value in nature."
Sharks are quickly becoming endangered throughout the world's oceans. Sand tigers have been listed as a species of concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1997. Wild populations are threatened by poaching for fins and overfishing. Female sand tigers reach sexual maturity around 10 years old and only give birth to one to two pups every other year. This slow reproduction rate makes it difficult for populations to recover.
Sand tigers (Carcharias taurus) can grow to 11 feet long and live around 17 years. They live in warm, coastal ocean waters around the world. With protruding teeth and strong bodies, sand tigers look fierce but are rarely aggressive towards humans.
The Shark Tank is included with regular admission. Guests can also watch scuba divers feed the stingrays and smaller fish every day at 2 p.m. The Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. On Saturday and Sundays through Sept. 2, 2012, the facility stays open until 6 p.m. Summer Nights Concert goers can enjoy the Aquarium until 9 p.m. on August 16 and 23.