7/2/2015 Angel Sharks Debut at Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay Pioneers Pacific Angel Shark Research 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 2, 2015 - Just in time for Shark Week, visitors to Aquarium of the Bay can now meet the newest additions to its Nearshore Tunnel habitat: three Pacific angel sharks. These aren’t just any sharks; these are the first Pacific angel sharks in the United States to be successfully born and reared in captivity.
 
In 2009, Aquarium of the Bay became the first institution in the US to successfully breed healthy Pacific angel sharks on exhibit. Six years later, the Aquarium reached another milestone when these bred sharks were deemed large enough to re-enter the Nearshore Tunnel where they were born, marking the first time the Aquarium has had this species on exhibit since their birth.
 
Aquarium of the Bay biologists were given a very rare opportunity when this litter was born, as little was previously known about the captive breeding of this species. For the last six years, Aquarium biologists have been closely observing and studying the growth of these pups behind the scenes, publishing several papers and presenting at numerous conferences pertaining to the best practices for the care of angel sharks.
 
At the time of their birth, the pups weighed in at 120 grams and were 24 cm long. Today, the sharks have grown to 6.38 kg and 87 cm long. Since their re-introduction to the Nearshore Tunnel, Aquarium biologists have continued keeping a close eye on these sharks, and have reported that the siblings have been acclimating very well to their new surroundings.
 
“It’s very unusual and interesting to see these curious flattened sharks,” says Christina J. Slager, Director of Animal Care.  “With their large round eyes and whisker-like chin barbels, they look really different from most sharks.”
 
Pacific angel sharks are typically outfitted with tawny-colored bodies scattered with small black and white spots, ideal for staying camouflaged against the sandy ocean floor. While two of the three angel sharks in the Aquarium’s tunnel meet this description, one has a much darker brown coloration. That doesn’t make him any easier to find however; instead, he masterfully blends with the rocks scattered along the tunnel floor.
 
Pacific angel sharks were named for to their flattened bodies and large, wing-like pectoral fins. These ambush predators move with incredible speed, and can strike within a tenth of a second. Visitors to the Aquarium can try their luck at spotting these cleverly disguised sharks in the Nearshore Tunnel exhibit. Pro tip: look for the two dorsal fins along their tails poking out of the sand.
 
To learn more about Pacific angel sharks and Aquarium of the Bay’s research, visit www.aquariumofthebay.org/pacific-angel-sharks.  
 
About Aquarium of the Bay:
Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to protect, restore, and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed, from the Sierra to the sea. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as a San Francisco Green Business. Located next to the beautiful San Francisco Bay and on the world-famous PIER 39, Aquarium of the Bay is San Francisco’s only waterfront aquarium. Dedicated to the diverse marine life and ecosystems of the Bay, Aquarium of the Bay is home to approximately 30,000 animals found in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. Addition information about Aquarium of the Bay is available at www.aquariumofthebay.org.