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Jun-27-2007 15:50printcomments

Oregon Coast Aquarium Adds Five Sharks to Passages of the Deep

The broadnose sevengills, all over six feet long, were transported to their new home.

Five sevengill sharks at Oregon Coast Aquarium
Four of five new sevengills are visible here in their temporary holding tank just before being added to Passages of the Deep at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

(NEWPORT, Ore.) - The Oregon Coast Aquarium introduced five Notorynchus cepedianus, also known as broadnose sevengill sharks, to its Passages of the Deep exhibit this morning.

Aquarium Spokesperson Cindy Hanson says the complex process of bringing the sharks up to the top of the Passages exhibit and releasing them went without a hitch today as four Aquarium staff members carefully lifted each one into stretchers that held them in place while being transported.

Each shark was weighed and tagged before it was moved to enable husbandry staff to monitor its growth and health. A towel was placed over their eyes during weighing and tagging to reduce stress.

“These sharks will improve our collection and enhance visitor experience,” said Aquarium Director of Animal Husbandry, Jim Burke. The sharks were quarantined for over two weeks before moving them into Passages of the Deep. Burke said he can't wait to see the reaction of people as they enter Passages and see twice as many sharks over six feet long as before, swimming all around them in the 200 foot tunnel.

Burke said the 750,000 gallon tank in the Passages of the Deep Open Sea exhibit is not very densely packed, so there is plenty of room for them. But how they would be received by the four seven gill sharks already in the tank was not a certainty. “They do live in groups in the wild so we hoped there wouldn’t be any aggression. So far, so good; the most interesting part now will be observing the male to female interactions. Eventually, we hope to breed them,” said Burke.

The sharks were caught in three separate trips to Willapa Bay, Washington by Aquarium husbandry staff with help from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and two Willapa Bay fishermen. The collection process was intense, according to Burke. “It was a real adrenaline rush to handle five large sharks with extreme care and get them into their new home as quickly as possible.” Burke and his staff drove to Willapa Bay, Washington with a 400 gallon transport tank.

They took 2 vessels out; one for catching the sharks and one for transporting them. “When we got a shark on the line we unclipped the leader and swam the shark into a stretcher that holds the shark making sure that its gills are always covered with water.” Burke explained that the stretcher is lifted up and into the primary transport box and brought to the secondary transport box which holds 400 gallons of water infused with pure oxygen.

This reduces stress and relaxes the sharks. After a four and a half hour drive home the sharks were introduced to their 25,000 gallon holding tank that serves as their halfway house before going on exhibit.

Broadnose sevengill sharks are known to migrate from Alaska to California on our coast and all the oceans of the world. They are predators that can be found in large concentrations. To acclimate them to their new home, they were kept in a holding tank with visual marks on the sides.

They are fed directly from a pole so husbandry staff can track their intake. “In the wild they eat seals, other sharks, other fish, anything they can get their teeth on,” said Burke. “We feed them many of the same things, including salmon, mackerel, herring, squid and sardines three times a week.” Burke said although we don’t know much about their life span, we believe it is increased in captivity by a consistent food supply and removal of predators.

The sharks have been named by Aquarium husbandry staff; L.D. (named after an Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife staff member), Bull, Mugs, Slash (named after Guns & Roses guitarist) and Pongo is the spotted one.

All of the sharks are available for adoption in the Aquarium’s Adopt-an-Animal program, which allows people to select and sponsor an animal with different levels of support. The proceeds help to pay for the feeding and care of the animal. Information is available on the website at

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