(New Orleans, La.) - Audubon Aquarium of the Americas welcomes "Caroline," the newest resident to the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. The 3-year-old sand tiger shark arrived on November 5, 2014 from the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
The sand tiger shark is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and is a candidate for the U.S. Endangered Species list. Although sand tiger populations are found all over the world, they have one of the lowest reproduction rates of all sharks, giving birth to one or two large pups every two years.
"In our waters, sand tigers are a protected species due to vulnerable status in the wild," said Audubon Aquarium Acting Director of Husbandry James Arnold. "Audubon Aquarium not only educates the public about the wonders of nature, but we also play a part in a Species Survival Plan (SSP) for sand tigers that concentrates on captive breeding efforts."
"Caroline" weighs approximately 90 pounds and measures 5 feet in length. Guests are marveling at her smooth gracefulness and petite size. Visitors can now observe the juvenile shark acclimate to her new home in the 400,000-gallon exhibit, surrounded by other sharks, schools of fish, sting rays, and sea turtles.
Sand Tiger Sharks Facts
- Often called "ragged toothed sharks" due to their toothy grin, sand tiger sharks are found in temperate waters worldwide, and are a favorite among divers along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. These sharks are heavy-bodied and display a mouthful of sharp teeth that protrude in all directions, even when their mouths are shut.
- They are grey-brown in color, and typically have spots along their sides. These spots can vary in number by individual, and may fade as the shark gets older. Sand tigers can reach up to 500 pounds in the wild.
- In the wild, sand tiger sharks have a tendency to stay close to the shoreline, near the surf zone, and are seen around the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. They occasionally hunt in groups, and have even been known to attack full fishing nets. Their diet consists mainly of small fish, small sharks, rays, squid, and occasionally invertebrates.