|Hawai'i Institute of Marine
Shark Research Group
Reef Sharks in Captivity at Coconut Island
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 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).
July 30 1998, Coconut Island became only the third location 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.
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