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So long, tiger shark: The Aquarium of the Pacific's most finicky resident moves on

September 23, 2009 |  8:32 pm

Tigershark

We told you last month that a tiger shark -- a particularly finicky tiger shark, in fact -- had taken up residence at Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific.  The shark, a female, was born in captivity after its pregnant mother was caught accidentally in a fisherman's net in Taiwan.  Although the species is rarely kept in aquariums (only two other facilities in the U.S. have tiger sharks in residence), the renowned Aquarium of the Pacific decided to try its hand at caring for one of the still largely mysterious creatures.

The idea of caring for a tiger shark was one thing; as it turned out, actually caring for one in practice was quite another. The shark proved a difficult customer. Though members of its species are sometimes called "wastebaskets of the sea" for their propensity to eat oceangoing garbage like boat cushions and license plates, the juvenile female had a distinctly different appetite, regularly turning down delicacies like restaurant-grade ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, halibut and shrimp.  Our colleague Louis Sahagun caught up with Steve Blair, the aquarium's assistant curator, as he went through the daily routine of trying to get the creature to eat. "If she's having a tough day and not eating," Blair told Sahagun, "I'll probably be kind of grumpy when I get home that night." 

Perhaps Blair is having more pleasant evenings of late, because the tiger shark recently moved to another facility, our sister blog Outposts reports today.  She was moved, according to a statement released by the aquarium, in an effort to give her more space in which to swim.  (In an effort to protect her from larger sharks in the Aquarium of the Pacific's Shark Lagoon exhibit, she had been kept in a sequestered area within the larger pool.) 

Although it declined to identify the tiger shark's new home by name, the Aquarium of the Pacific noted in its statement that the facility is accredited by the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums and will be able to provide a larger enclosure for her.

"We are thrilled that we had the rare opportunity to have her at the Aquarium of the Pacific these past six months and on exhibit this past summer," the statement continued. "She has served as an ambassador to those in the wild and created greater awareness for the plight of tiger sharks and their need for protection. We also have learned much about this species in the process of caring for her. We wish her well in her new home."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: The shark eyes a hunk of boneless chuck steak offered by an aquarium staffer but declines to eat it earlier this year.  Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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