CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — There are now several critically endangered short-tail nurse shark pups at the Tennessee Aquarium.
The Aquarium said short-tail nurse sharks are found in the tropical waters of the western Indian Ocean.
The youngsters, which hatched July 7, are the product of three adult short-tail nurse sharks – one male and two females – which arrived at the Aquarium along with eight juveniles and eight fertilized eggs from a facility in Canada last year.
According to a release, those fertilized eggs hatched in 2021, but these are the first pups produced from eggs laid by the breeding trio since their arrival at the Aquarium. Short-tail nurse shark eggs develop for about 165 days before hatching, and one more egg remains to be hatched from this group.
Short-tail nurse sharks have been known to live as long as 30 years in human care.
Few facilities have populations of short-tail nurse sharks, and the Tennessee Aquarium currently has 20, which is the largest breeding group of any public institution in North America.
The Aquarium's population accounts for half of the 40 short-tail nurse sharks housed at zoological institutions using the Species360 Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) database worldwide.
“This is an example of how we’re able to not only display animals to educate the public, but we’re able to further the science behind the animals that we display,” says Senior Aquarist Kyle McPheeters, who is responsible for the Aquarium’s shark breeding program.
Breeding these sharks will allow the Aquarium to exhibit this rare and endangered shark without endangering the population.