TALES FROM THE TANK
In recent weeks at the aquarium we have had a new arrival; we would like to introduce Seb, a zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum). Seb has joined us from The Deep in Hull, which has managed a successful captive breeding programme with this species. Once Seb has been through his quarantine period, he will be on display for people to admire this cheeky little chap in our reef section. The quarantine period for Seb is essential for him, it allows him to get used to our water’s parameters, such as temperature, ph and general chemical composition, as it is water that he will be living in for the rest of his days. It is essential for the team of aquarists and scuba divers to monitor his behaviour, ensuring we can provide the best quality of life possible. Quarantining an animal is also important in keeping a close eye on any signs or symptoms of ill health or diseases, so they can be remedied efficiently - introducing a sick or diseased individual into a thriving population is very irresponsible and potentially deadly for all concerned. Having our quarantine facility also allows for our scuba team to get up close and personal with Seb; it gets the divers interacting with him and be able to start feeding him by hand - essential for monitoring the intake of food for this species. Thankfully, Seb appears to have a clean bill of health and has taken to human interaction like, well… like a shark to swimming.
Seb is currently 168cm and weighs 21.5kg; zebra sharks tend to attain a size of 250cm with unconfirmed reports of a maximum size of over three metres in length, so he has some growing to do yet. We are currently feeding him everyday on a variety of chopped up fish, like mackerel, sprat and whiting, this has aided with his ‘settling in period’ and will cease soon as we will get him used to a more-controlled and regulated diet to give him the highest quality of life we can. He is adjusting perfectly and we know he will love his new home, he loves playing with the divers and when they get in the tank with him, he is always close by waiting for interaction.
In the long term, we are hoping to add Seb to our own breeding programme, as zebra sharks are an IUCN vulnerable species - captive breeding programmes like The Deep’s in Hull are vital in sustaining a healthy population of this species in the wild and captivity. We are hoping our breeding programme gets off to a good start and has long term success. Once we have any offspring from our own zebra sharks, we would then be able to collaborate with other aquariums across the world to help them with their breeding programmes. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we could have some zebra pups (a strange concept?). You will then be able to see why they are called zebra sharks, as they have a striped pattern when they are young, which slowly develops into the spotty pattern we all know and love as adults, and explains why they are sometimes called leopard sharks.
Having had the experience of diving with these sharks in the wild and here in our amazing shark exhibits, they are just such curious amazing animals, and I would recommend diving with them.