#SharkWeek Special: Behind the Scenes with Adventure Aquarium’s Great Hammerhead Shark

Here at Adventure Aquarium, one of our most unique animals is the great hammerhead shark, which is in fact, the only one on exhibit in the entire country!

HH Feed1

As you can guess, he gets a lot of attention from visitors and biologists alike. Our husbandry team takes great care to ensure that the hammerhead, along with the other fish, sea turtles, sharks and rays in our 760,000 gallon Ocean Realm (the hammerhead’s home), is well cared for; and, one of the important factors in maintaining the great hammerhead shark’s health is making sure he is well-nourished.

Biologist Liz Hann prepares to pole feed our great hammerhead shark

Biologist Liz Hann prepares to pole feed our great hammerhead shark from the top of Ocean Realm

The great hammerhead is fed six times a week, with a varied diet that consists of mackerel, herring, squid, blue fish, among other species. During each feed, he is fed around 2% of his body weight, which measures out to 900 – 1,000 grams of food. Due to the large amount of fish we feed the animals each day, the fish come to the aquarium frozen. When the fish is frozen, it loses some of its nutritional value. Therefore, our biologists will put a vitamin supplement inside the fish before feeding the sharks once a week, with our hammerhead receiving four and a half vitamins each feed.

Before even going to Ocean Realm to feed the great hammerhead, the biologists first get the vitamins and “fish of the day” to feed the shark. Once at Ocean Realm, there’s a specific procedure for feeding. First, the biologist will prepare the pole used to feed the sharks. The feed pole is around 12 feet long and has short, skinny prongs that stick out laterally at the bottom where the food is placed. Then, the biologist weighs one fish and records the weight on a form before sticking it on the pole. The biologist then taps the water with the pole, which signifies to the great hammerhead shark that it’s time for feeding! This procedure is repeated until the shark becomes full or he has eaten his entire meal.

Fish is placed at the end of the pole and dropped into Ocean Realm. Biologists tap the water with the pole, which signifies to the great hammerhead shark that it’s time for feeding!

Fish is placed at the end of the pole and dropped into Ocean Realm. Biologists tap the water with the pole, which signifies to the great hammerhead shark that it’s time for feeding!

Doesn’t seem too hard right? Well, sometimes competition can arise, even from our loggerhead sea turtles! The biologists work around this by having turtle-favorite treats like lettuce and veggies in case curiosity gets the better of the hammerhead’s shelled neighbors!

Loggerhead Bob checks out the feed action

Loggerhead Bob checks out the feed action

Curious sea turtles!

Curious sea turtles!

So what happens during a great hammerhead feed and what does it look like? Well, check out the exclusive video below!

Silky Shark Release at Adventure Aquarium

Exciting news! And just in time for Shark Week: LIVE!

Today, two juvenile male Silky Sharks were released into Adventure Aquarium’s 760,000 gallon Ocean Realm exhibit, where they joined a 6 year old female Silky Shark and other aquatic inhabitants, including sea turtles, rays and other sharks.

Shark Transfer 4

The Silky Sharks were moved this morning from a holding system area to their 760,000 gallon new home during a transfer carefully monitored by Adventure Aquarium biologists and veterinary staff.

Shark Transfer 1During the transfer process, biologists corralled the sharks one at a time into a transportable holding tank, travelling up a service elevator to the top of the Ocean Realm exhibit, where the sharks – about 45 inches long – were then released into the exhibit.

Shark Transfer 2

Once on exhibit, biologists carefully monitored the sharks’ progress both outside the water, and with divers inside the water, to ensure that the sharks are acclimating to their new surroundings. The sharks seem to be thriving in their new exhibit – exploring and swimming, much to the excitement of the Aquarium team.

Shark Transfer 3

“We are excited to exhibit this species at Adventure Aquarium,” said Husbandry Director Marc Kind. “We were very interested in acquiring more than one Silky Shark, and having at least one of each gender for the opportunity for future breeding. The sharks have adjusted well to this complex transfer and the team did an amazing job in getting the sharks from our holding facility to the exhibit.”

See video of the release, below:

Silky Sharks are named for the smooth texture of their skin. Highly mobile and migratory, they are most often found in tropical waters over the edge of the continental shelf down to depths of 164 feet. The Silky Shark has a slender, streamlined body and typically grows to a length of 8 feet.

Though known to be prevalent, Silky Sharks are rarely seen outside of the ocean. And Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium in the country to feature them on exhibit. The three Silky Sharks join Adventure Aquarium’s Great Hammerheads – another rarely exhibited shark species that can only be found at Adventure Aquarium – and more than 15 other unique species, comprising the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast. See them up close now and during Shark Week: LIVE! August 3-11.