Friday, April 09, 1999

Sharks coaxed into new home


Slippery transfer resembles rodeo

BY TERRY FLYNN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Several of the larger nurse sharks were moved from a holding tank to the 380,000-gallon shark exhibit area at the Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium on Thursday, but not without a lot of urging.

        The holding tank, connected to the main tank by a wide tunnel that includes a sliding gate, resembled a watery corral at times as divers liter ally herded the sharks into their new home.

        “Yee-haw,” dive coordinator Bruno Lanman hollered with a big grin as he and senior aquatic biologist Linda Hanna, clad in wet suits, used their arms and legs to guide the sharks toward the opening.

        “We're having fun now,” Ms. Hanna said as she tried to second-guess the fast-moving sharks that repeatedly outmaneuvered her in about 4 feet of water.

        After the better part of an hour, seven of the largest nurse sharks were moving slowly through the Surround ed By Sharks display, cautiously checking out the imitation rock and coral and avoiding the divers working in the tank.

        “Once they've been in the (larger) tank for a while and are accustomed to the surrounding, they'll settle down,” Ms. Hanna said. “They've been in the holding tank for over a week, and they thought that was home — so they weren't ready to leave.”

        In addition to the sharks, three spadefish, a crevalle jack, a triggerfish, a red drum and a pinfish were moved into the 15-foot-deep shark dis play.

        In the coming weeks, the shark tank will be home to sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, lemon sharks, and a larger variety of ocean fish that commonly share water with sharks.

        The only other exhibit already occupied is Penguin Kingdom, where 16 king penguins are swimming and frolicking in an Antarcticlike environment.

        The $40 million aquarium is expected to open as planned May 15, with 60 exhibits featuring some 11,000 animals in 1 million gallons of water.

       



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