The sharks of Ocean Journey
A Species List
of shark species can be found in the Aquarium’s Ocean
Journey. Visitors first encounter epaulette and bamboo sharks
in the Shark Island on Level 4. Guests may touch these harmless
sharks and their cousins, the stingrays. Both the epaulette
and bamboo sharks are small and pose no threat to humans. The
toothy sand tiger sharks and the agile sandbar sharks can be
seen cruising in the Secret Reef exhibit on Levels 1 and 2.
Visitors might also spot the sandtiger and sandbar sharks while
exploring the Undersea Cavern.
Shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum
The epaulette shark is a member of the carpet shark family and
rarely exceeds 3.5 feet in length. It has a long, slender body
that is characterized by two dark spots found over the pectoral
fins. Dark, irregular spots cover the rest of the shark’s
sharks are found in Australia and New Guinea. They are often
seen in tide pools and prefer to live in the shallow waters
of coral reefs. The epaulette shark feeds on bottom-dwelling
invertebrates such as worms, shrimp and small shellfish.
Bamboo Shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum
The brown-banded bamboo shark is named for the coloration it
has as a juvenile. Thick, chocolate-brown bands run across its
body. The bands fade as the shark matures. This species also
is a member of the carpet shark family.
sharks have very small, whisker-like barbels located just below
each nostril that are used to locate food. These sharks feed
on bottom-dwelling invertebrates and crustaceans including shrimp
bamboo sharks breathe oxygen in the water through their gills,
the brown-banded bamboo shark has been known to survive up to
12 hours out of the water.
the epaulette shark, bamboo sharks prefer to live in shallow
water and tide pools. They are found in India, Malaysia, Thailand,
Indonesia, China, Japan, the Philippines and northern Australia.
Spotted Bamboo Shark, Chiloscyllium plagiosum
The white spotted bamboo shark, also a member of the carpet
shark family, is recognizable by the numerous white spots found
on its body.
species of bamboo shark lays eggs in thick egg cases. The eggs
hatch after three months and the young are approximately 5 inches
long. These animals are regularly consumed by humans and are
also used in Chinese medicine.
other carpet sharks, white spotted bamboo sharks prefer to live
in shallow water near coral reefs. They are found in coastal
waters near Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and India.
Tiger Shark, Carcharias taurus
With its large jaws, toothy grin and powerful body, the sand
tiger fits the mental image that most people have when the word
“shark” is mentioned.
its menacing appearance, the sand tiger shark is actually quite
harmless. This species of shark is often described as sluggish
because they swim more slowly than other types of sharks. These
sharks can be approached and are not considered a threat or
a danger to humans. Sand tiger sharks are usually found on the
ocean floor near shorelines. Although they are not the largest
of the shark species, sand tigers can reach lengths of 10 feet
and can weigh more than 250 pounds.
tiger sharks control their buoyancy by gulping air at the surface
of the water and holding the air in their stomachs. This allows
the animal to hover with neutral buoyancy in the water column
and conserve energy. Sand tigers will actually burp to rid themselves
of this air.
Sand tiger sharks are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from
the Gulf of Maine to Argentina, the Atlantic coast of Europe
to North Africa and in the Mediterranean Sea.
tiger populations have declined in the past 10 years and they
are listed as a vulnerable species. However, a recommendation
has been made to change the status of this species to endangered.
Shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus
The sleek sandbar sharks are usually smaller than sand tigers,
reaching an average length of 6.5 feet and average weight of
sharks are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young.
Young sandbar sharks are about 2 feet long at birth and are
born in litter that range in size from one to 14 pups. Young
sandbar sharks remain for a time in estuaries (areas where freshwater
rivers meet the ocean) and are often preyed upon by tiger and
sharks are important animals for commercial fishermen on the
East Coast. They are harvested for their fins, flesh, skins
and livers. The sandbar shark is the most abundant of the large
sharks in the western Atlantic. A plan to manage the populations
of this shark was implemented in 1993 and has helped to stabilize