Shark Chronicles 021 – Aquarium rescue

Shark Chronicles 021 – Aquarium rescue

Posted by Adam Johnstone on August 7, 2008

Until recently the main reason for the interns to visit ‘the Point’ area after a day at sea was to unwind in ‘Big Blu’, a laid back bar with spectacular views over the ocean.

The Mossel By Shark and Ray AquariumThat was until SAMPLA answered an SOS call from the Mossel Bay Shark & Ray Aquarium, which is located downstairs. Ryan was approached by the aquarium management to advise on the health of the exhibits, particularly the sharks it contained, and about the possibility of creating a partnership with SAMPLA to help manage and run the aquarium.Ryan was quick to spot the potential of using the aquarium for scientific research, education, public lectures and conservation, with a goal of engaging the public, improving awareness and promoting the protection of marine species. Currently the main attractions at the aquarium are a 16,000 l tank which contains a Spotted gully shark (Triakis megalopterus) endemic to South Africa and a Butterfly ray (Gymnura sp.) and a touch tank which is home to two Pyjama Sharks (Poroderma Africanum), a Leopard Catshark (Poroderma Pantherinum), a Puff adder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and three Sand sharks (Rhinabatos annulatus).

Many of the inhabitants were in poor condition and unfortunately one of the Butterfly rays had recently died. Ryan consulted with Adam Johnstone (a SAMPLA intern and aquarist) about the feasibility of improving the aquarium and it quickly became apparent that the integrity of the electricity supply and the filtration system were both inadequate.

Two weeks on following some intensive husbandry by Nihodimus Choga (resident aquarist), Adam and with the assistance of the other interns there has been no further losses. Most of the inhabitants are now visibly improved, beginning to eat and have begun to demonstrate their natural behavior. Issues relating to the electricity supply have been addressed and the installation of a redesigned and upgraded filtration system is imminent.

Future plans for SAMPLA are to manage and implement the day to day running of the aquarium, to produce education and conservation presentations, to utilize the partnership to stimulate interest from local businesses, public and tourists and to reinforce the importance of conservation and research issues. The long term aspiration will be to develop a dual purpose shark research and exhibition facility and create an additional reason for everyone to visit ‘the Point’.

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