National Aquarium is expecting many new sharks to join the family with the opening of the much-anticipated Blacktip Reef exhibit July 10 but in the meantime, the organization is thrilled to announce the birth of a female sandbar shark pup recently born to the two adult sandbars in the Shark Alley: Atlantic Predators exhibit. This is the first pup born to the female sandbar since coming to the Aquarium in 2003.
After staff initially observed the birth, the pup – who measured 26 inches and weighted in at almost five pounds on May 21 – was moved behind-the-scenes for immediate veterinary care and further observation. At this time, the Aquarium’s Animal Care and Animal Health teams are working closely to monitor the baby shark's health and eating patterns.
“Our priority is to give the animal the best care possible,” said Brent Whitaker, Vice President of Biological Programs for National Aquarium. “While the birth of this shark pup is very exciting, and quite rate in an aquarium setting, we are cautiously optimistic as shark pups have a low survival rate.
Female sandbars are known to have a range of one to 14 pups throughout their lifetime. This species reaches sexual maturity at around 16 years of age (or later) and their average gestational period is about 12 months. Females also have what’s known as a “biennial reproductive cycle,” meaning they reproduce every other year.
Visit the Aquarium’s WATERblog for further updates and photos as National Aquarium cares for the shark pup.