Two of Virginia Aquarium’s oldest sand tiger sharks died within a month

Media Release

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

31. December 2014


We are sad to share the news that two of our oldest sand tiger sharks have passed away this holiday season.

taurus1aOn the evening of December 24, staff discovered one of its oldest sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) at the bottom of the Norfolk Canyon Aquarium. Shortly thereafter, it was confirmed that the shark had passed away. “Mystic,” named after the Mystic Aquarium from which she was acquired in 1999, was over 20 years old. Tissue samples were taken as part of a necropsy but the pathology reports are pending. It is expected that the shark died of complications due to its advanced age.

Unfortunately, this loss was on the heels of another 20 plus year old sand tiger shark, “Double Notch” who passed away earlier in the month, December 10. Double Notch’s swimming behavior a day before had alerted staff that perhaps the shark was ill. After close examination, Dr. Bob George, the Aquarium’s senior veterinarian, determined that her condition was one that could not have been prevented or reversed, and that her quality of life would not improve with any additional treatment or care. The decision was made to humanely euthanize her with husbandry and vet staff on hand. A necropsy revealed that Double Notch was anemic with a bacterial infection in her ovaries. Studies reveal that chronic anemia and reproductive infections are not unusual in sand tiger populations of breeding or extended age. Double Notch came to the Aquarium December 13, 1995, and also resided in the Norfolk Canyon Aquarium.

Director of Live Exhibits Rachel Metz said, “Many people see sharks as predators, but we care for them day in and day out and respect their role in the ocean and their beauty and ability to serve as ambassadors of their species.” The sand tiger sharks are among the “star species” of the 260,000 gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium. This popular aquarium reveals to guests what lives in the real Norfolk Canyon which is 60 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Since the exhibit opened in 1996 as a part of Phase 2 of the Aquarium’s growth, the sharks have been seen by millions of guests, helping to demystify their purpose in the ocean.

Source: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center


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