New England Aquarium welcomes 100th epaulette shark hatchling since 2012

BOSTON — Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. One hundred baby sharks, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.

The New England Aquarium reached a major milestone earlier this year after welcoming its 100th epaulette shark hatchling since 2012.

The male baby shark was hatched on January 10 and will remain behind the scenes at the aquarium until it is ready to join the Science of Sharks exhibit in five to six months. The shark’s father has lived at the aquarium since 2008 and is the oldest epaulette shark on record in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) studbook program

“This is a really exciting milestone and shows the experience and success we’ve gained with this species. Caring for animals throughout their entire lifespan allows us to learn more about their development, characteristics, and longevity, which ultimately allows us to provide them the ability to experience excellent welfare,” said Sarah Tempesta, manager of Interactive Exhibits at the Aquarium.

The aquarium began breeding epaulette sharks in 2009 before reaching consistent success in 2012. According to the aquarium, It takes five months for the shark eggs to hatch after being deposited by the female, and about seven years for them to become full grown—about 3 feet long.

Most of the aquarium’s shark population are females, providing some genetic diversity. The Aquarium ships off some of its shark offspring to other zoos and aquariums around the country.

“Epaulette sharks are native to tropical waters off Australia and New Guinea. Their name comes from the large spots behind each pectoral fin that are reminiscent of military epaulettes. They have evolved to be able to use their strong pectoral fins to “walk” across the seafloor and even stretches of land. Epaulette sharks can also switch off non-essential brain functions to conserve energy in dangerously low-oxygen environments like shallow tide pools,” the aquarium says.

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