Sharks


The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores features four species of sharks commonly found in our waters – sand tigers, bonnetheads, nurse sharks and sandbar sharks. Enjoy fin-filled activities all about sharks during Shark Week, July 22-28 or Fin-filled Fridays every week through Aug. 10, 2012.

Open wide

Flossing would be an all-day job if people had teeth like the two sand tigers reigning over the Living Shipwreck. They get much of their savage appearance from their tri-cuspid chompers. No wonder their nickname is the raggedy-tooth shark.   Sand tigers sport multiple rows of these beauties, highly visible as they swim with their mouths agape. And, like most other sharks, they can quickly replace any losses.

Sand tigers can reach up to 10 feet in length — the largest one in the Living Shipwreck is about six feet long and growing fast. Their formidable mouths, their staring yellow eyes and their imposing mass can be a startling sight, but sand tigers are not usually aggressive towards people. Like the other animals in the Living Shipwreck, sand tigers are commonly encountered in the marine communities around sunken vessels.

That’s using your head

The bonnethead sharks in Queen Anne’s Revenge roll their unusually shaped heads from side to side as they swim, scanning for prey with various electroreceptors. Related to the hammerhead, the bonnethead also is known as the shovelhead shark. The bonnethead captures soft prey with its front teeth, and crushes the shells of crabs and other armored animals with a set of molars in the back. Bonnetheads are not considered dangerous to humans

This won’t hurt a bit?

The nurse sharks in the Living Shipwreck are more curious-looking than scary. The two long, fleshy, whisker-like barbels dangling from their nostrils, sensitive to touch and taste, help these bottom-dwellers identify food. Nurse sharks are not normally dangerous to swimmers unless provoked. The origin of their name is a mystery of the deep. One theory: They sometimes make a sucking noise, resembling the sound of a nursing infant.

Fast fins

Sandbar sharks also inhabit the Living Shipwreck. These bottom dwellers appear in inshore coastal waters as well as offshore. Sandbars have notably large dorsal and pectoral fins, and swim much faster than the sand tigers. Like most shark species found in North Carolina waters, sandbars normally are not considered a threat to humans.