On January 27 the Aquarium’s shark team moved two female zebra shark pups born via artificial insemination to their new home in Shark Lagoon. The Aquarium of the Pacific is the first to be able to successfully reproduce zebra sharks through artificial insemination. Fern, a twenty-year-old zebra shark who has lived at the Aquarium since 1997, is the mother of the two ten-month-old shark pups.
The zebra shark pups are now about 2.5 to 3 feet long. In addition to being able to see these special sharks, the public will have the chance to touch them starting around Valentine’s Day.
Zebra sharks often called leopard sharks in Australia, are found in the Indo-West Pacific. This includes the Red Sea, East Africa, New Caledonia, Japan, Australia, and Tonga. This species of shark prefers inshore marine or brackish water. They grow to be 5.5 to 11.5 feet in length and are 9 feet long on average. These sharks are nocturnal foragers, feeding on snails and bivalves, crabs, shrimp, and small bony fishes.
They can live about twenty-five to thirty years, but face many threats in the wild. Overfishing poses a big threat, as these sharks are sold for human consumption or fish meal. Livers are processed for vitamins, and there is a large market for their fins. In Australia, where zebra sharks are not a target species for fishing, their population for that region is listed under IUCN Red’s List as Least Concern.