28 posts categorized "Animals: Sharks"

November 25, 2013

Get chummy with the sharks and rays on this tour


Experience Wild Reef in a deeper way: the new behind-the-scenes feeding tour. You’ll tread where few but the shark team go to witness mealtime for some of the most exciting—and misunderstood—species at Shedd: the sharks and rays.

You’ll even have a hand in feeding some of the fishes.

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August 09, 2013

Shark Matchmaking


What do you think of when you hear the word “studbook”? Thoroughbred horses? Pedigreed dogs? How about sharks?

Lise Watson, Wild Reef collection manager, compiled and maintains the studbook for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, or SSP, for zebra sharks. An SSP is a carefully managed breeding program developed for species that are declining in the wild. Zebra sharks are heavily fished throughout most of their range, and their reef habitat is disappearing. The SSP is designed to establish healthy, genetically diverse and sustainable populations at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member organizations.

“I’m kind of a matchmaker,” Lise quips—one who keeps a detailed and constantly updated database and works with a geneticist and population biologists to make the best-informed choices for several hundred zebra sharks at more than 30 North American aquariums and zoos.

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August 06, 2013

Shark Week: Sharks of a Different Stripe

Sea turtle Nickel isn’t the only animal at Shedd who enjoys being tickled: Some of the zebra sharks seem to like it, too.

“I think they like the feel of the bubbles coming out of our regulators,” says Lise Watson, Wild Reef collection manager. “During our maintenance dives, if we put our regulators underneath them, they dance around like the bubbles tickle their bellies. When they’re overly inquisitive, we’ll play with them like that, and then they usually let us get our work done.”

Dance? Play? Tickle? What sort of sharks are these zebras?

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August 02, 2013

Know Your Rays: Mellow Yellow

Yellow Stingray_blog

The bottom-burrowing, cryptically camouflaged, more traditional-looking yellow rays were included in the Stingray Touch experience as a visual and behavioral contrast to the faster-moving, surface-swimming, touchy-feely cownose rays.

“This species is solitary and kind of shy, so it was a fun surprise when the yellow rays began coming up along the pool ledge for people to touch as well,” says Michael Masellis, one of the aquarists on the stingray team.

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May 17, 2013

Endangered Species Have Their Day

Endangered mantella sign_blog

May 17 is Endangered Species Day. But we live among threatened and endangered plant and animal species every day. You might see them during a bird walk on the lakefront or on a hike through the Cook County forest preserves. You will see them swimming in Shedd’s exhibits and even growing in our gardens.

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May 05, 2013

Celebrate Mexico's Aquatic Heritage at Shedd

Cownose_blog_2 (2)

It’s Cinco de Mayo, a major celebration in Chicago. At Shedd Aquarium, you’ll meet some of Mexico’s most intriguing freshwater animals, like the ghostly blind cave fish and those tadpoles for life, axolotls, in the Islands and Lakes gallery. The iguana habitat in this gallery features reef fishes you’d find if you were diving off Cozumel or Yucatan.

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August 13, 2012

Shark Week: Spotted Ratfish, the Unshark

Ratfish 2_blog

Happy 25th anniversary of Shark Week! After you’ve celebrated by taking a self-guided tour with our new Ten Fun Finds: Sharks at Shedd map, mosey back to the Oceans gallery to meet the spotted ratfish, a distant relative of sharks—so distant that we’re calling him the unshark.

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Shedd's shark experts answer your questions

Shark_week_blogOn Wednesday, August 15, from 1:30 to 2 p.m. CST, Shedd's online audiences will have the chance to ask our shark experts their shark-related questions during our live Twitter chat.

Join the conversation on Twitter (our handle is @shedd_aquarium) using #sharkchat. If you don't have a Twitter account, we're always happy to answer your questions on Facebook, too. Leave us a message or post on our Facebook wall and we'll pass your questions along to our experts.

July 25, 2012

Jazzin' Instrumentals: Fiddler Rays

There’s no better place than the sunken ray pool in Wild Reef to see how the fiddler ray got its common name. The disk and large pelvic fins form the familiar figure-8 shape, and the long tail resembles a violin’s neck, complete with peg box (represented by the two prominent triangular dorsal fins that identify this species) and scroll (the caudal fin). The eyes and spiracles (small openings in front of the eyes that allow the ray to take water into its gills when it’s at rest on the ocean floor) can almost pass for the f holes, or perhaps the fine tuners. (The illustration of the fiddler ray was done by virtuoso staff graphic designer Sally Smith.)

Appropriately, at least for our Jazzin’ at the Shedd series, the fiddler ray is in the same taxonomic family as the guitarfish. 

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July 03, 2012

Historic shark conservation legislation signed into law at Shedd Aquarium

Blacktip Reef Shark_blog
On Sunday, in Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit, aquarium staff members and special guests marked a historic day for the state of Illinois and international shark conservation. House Bill 4119, sponsored by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn against the backdrop of Shedd’s 400,000-gallon shark habitat. It will ban the sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins in the state of Illinois. Supporters of the legislation, including the Center for Oceanic Awareness Research and Education, the Humane Society of the United States and the Natural Resources Defense Council were present for the bill signing. Shedd's Executive Vice President of External Affairs & Communications Roger Germann gave opening remarks, while Senior Aquarist Heather Thomas closed the ceremony by placing the importance of shark conservation into context.

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