Move-in began in recent weeks. First, five baby bonnethead sharks (Syphyrna tiburo) joined a variety of rays already living in the exhibit. The shark siblings, all female, were born at the Aquarium in September. Their mother can be seen swimming in the Cape Fear Shoals exhibit.
Next, a yearling green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) joined the bonnethead pups. This animal hatched from eggs found in a late-laid nest in Emerald Isle and arrived at the Aquarium in December 2010. The turtle initially weighed one ounce (28 grams) and measured 2.28 inches (5.8 centimeters). Now significantly larger, the yearling will help educate visitors about the federally protected species.
After staff determined the sharks and turtle were acclimating to their new surroundings and each other, a school of juvenile African pompano (Alectis ciliaris) were added to the exhibit. These fish were collected from Core and Pamlico Sounds and sport spectacular trailing dorsal fins.
“Shadows on the Sand gives visitors a glimpse into a nursery of sorts,” says Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “Here Aquarium staff feed and care for these young animals as they grow and visitors can compare them with the more mature animals, including bonnetheads and African pompano, found in other exhibits.”