Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Transporting Hammerheads

May 17th, 2011 · 2 Comments


I surely can’t be the only aquarium patron who, when confronted with a vast array of exotic sealife sealed behind glass, can only wonder how the largest of those captive animals was transported to their new homes. Sharks, of course, present special challenges, given their size and potential ferocity. And no shark species has proven more problematic for aquariums than the hammerhead, a delicate creature that has historically demonstrated itself to be quite averse to being cooped up for hours on end. Notes on the Long-term Transport of the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini ) (PDF) provides some history of the evolution of the requisite techniques, including the design of the containment unit pictured above. The latest results, though better than in years past, are unlikely to please those who object to keeping sharks in captivity:

The shortest-duration transport of 42 hr yielded an 83% survival rate 2 weeks after the arrival of the sharks in Beijing. The longest-duration transport to Rotterdam of 70 hr yielded a 33% survival rate, while the transport to Lisbon of 60 hr yielded an 83% survival rate. Throughout the shipments, the sharks appeared to be able to avoid both the walls of the containers and the conspecifics with ease, sustaining no external physical injuries through repeated collisions.

I’ve done you the kindness of snipping and posting the paper’s best chart here. Perhaps the high mortality rate explains why those super-intelligent makos from Deep Blue Sea felt compelled to exact some measure of revenge.

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