Saving zebra sharks at The Deep

Tom Row, aquarist and zebra shark expert at The Deep, speaks to us about saving sharks

 

The Deep is involved in a number of European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) Breeding Programmes to help conserve healthy populations and safeguard the genetic populations of animals in our care. These programmes act to provide a future for some of the world’s most vulnerable species including the Zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum).

In 2015 The Deep became the first aquarium in the UK to successfully breed and rear Zebra sharks. Of the 6 pups born, the four males have been transferred to Oceanario D’Lisboa, Acquario di Genova and Jerusalem Biblical Family Zoo. The two remaining females will be staying with us at The Deep. In addition, The Deep successfully hatched 3 additional eggs from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The first male has since been transferred to Burgers Zoo, with another soon to travel to Blue Planet Aquarium. The final shark will remain with us.

 

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These breeding programmes each consist of a co-ordinator who manages the species and maintains records of individual animals, their location and their history. From this information, they can make recommendations for ideal breeding pairs that will ensure a healthy gene pool for future generations.

Zebra sharks are classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist and are susceptible to local inshore fisheries and coral reef habitat loss and damage because of its habitat preferences and limited dispersion. Most commonly found in the Indian, west and central Pacific Oceans, Zebra sharks are usually located within a narrow band of shallow coral reef.

 

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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje