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Four Baby Sharks Born in Steinhart Aquarium
San Francisco (July 9, 2003) - Marsha, a six-foot long, white-tipped shark who lives at the Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park, gave birth to four, 25-inch, three-pound baby sharks on Friday, July 4th. The mother had been receiving special care from the Aquarium staff at the California Academy of Sciences during the final months of her pregnancy.
"We are very pleased to welcome the four newest arrivals to the
Steinhart Aquarium - where they join more than 6000 other animals, representing
over 600 species from all over the world," said Bob Jenkins, director
of the Steinhart Aquarium. "I am particularly proud of the Aquarium
staff. Whenever a mother in captivity gives birth to healthy offspring,
following a closely-monitored pregnancy, it is an indication that the
animals are being especially well cared for."
In the wild, baby sharks often don't make it past their first days of
life. However, in their first hours, Marsha's pups appeared to be healthy.
As they develop, it is anticipated that the young sharks will eat approximately
10% of the their body weight each week and will spend much of their time
resting together in a dark corner of their tank. Two of the pups appear
to be females, one appeared to be a male and one was unknown. Their sexes
will be confirmed at a later date. In honor of the day of their birth,
two of the pups have been given the nicknames 'George Washington' and
Pam Schaller, the Aquatic Biologist primarily responsible for shark care,
determined that Marsha might be pregnant when she noticed bites around
the shark's gills in May 2002. Male sharks typically bite females during
copulation, which lasts about two minutes. The gestation period for white-tipped
sharks is 12-14 months. Careful observation and monitoring of her condition
confirmed the pregnancy earlier this year.
The mother has been kept in a private tank since late March to protect
her offspring from the other sharks in the main shark tank. Shortly after
giving birth, Marsha was returned to the main shark tank, to ensure that
she won't eat her own young.
The father of the four pups is either Amos or Arthur - the two male,
white-tipped sharks at the Steinhart Aquarium. The three sharks have lived
at the Steinhart since 1996 when the Academy's exhibit, "Sharks of
the Tropics" opened.
White-tipped sharks (Triaenodon obesus) are native to the tropical areas
of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The sharks are most active at night,
often spending their days resting in caves and reefs.
The Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences houses over
6,000 live specimens, representing nearly 600 species of fishes, large
invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and penguins in almost 200 living
exhibits. Founded in 1923, the Aquarium is now home to one of the most
diverse collections of aquatic life in the world.
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