Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology
Shark Research Group

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Reef Sharks in Captivity at Coconut Island 

Current reef shark research projects

A reef black tip (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in our holding facility

      The main shark holding facility at Coconut Island is a large saltwater enclosure fenced at both ends and open to the surrounding seawater.  This tidally flushed lagoon is characterized by a shallow (0.5m) shelf extending from shore to a deep (3m) channel which runs the length of the lagoon.  The shark pen is approximately 22m by 100m with live coral growing along the sides of the channel.  This provides habitat for reef fishes and invertebrates.  The semi-natural habitat is ideal for maintaining medium sized sharks (1-2m) for long term studies.  Sharks maintained in the shark pond are used for age and growth studies.

      Approximately twenty sharks of five different species are A juvenile hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, in "the pond"measured biennially for precaudal length, fork length, total length, clasper size, mouth width and head width.  Scalloped hammerheads that were captured as neonates have been maintained in the shark pond for over six years and are in good condition.   Other species currently in captivity include blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus), reef blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and reef whitetip sharks (Triaenodon obesus).

    On July 30 1998, Coconut Island became only the third locationOne of our enclosures for neonate and juvenile sharks in North America to have T. obesus mate and give birth in captivity.   The two male pups are being used in an energy conversion experiment where their food intake is controlled and they are regularly measured to monitor growth.   This past June, two more T. obesus pups were born and are currently being used in the same experiments.


This site was created by Timothy Fitzgerald and maintained by Nick Whitney
Last updated December 07, 2006 09:03 PM HST