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Whitespotted Bamboo Shark

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by wgoodman

Whitespotted bamboo sharks have a slender body that allows it to fit between coral branches and hide in tight spaces during day. Young and adults have a brown body color with transverse dark bands and numerous irregular white or bluish spots. They can be distinguished from other bamboo sharks by this unique coloration pattern. Their pectoral fins are muscular and can be used to crawl around on the bottoms.

Habitat

They inhabit the Indo-West Pacific region from India to Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Korea and southern Japan. Found around tropical inshore bottoms and coral reefs in shallow and intertidal areas.

Diet

They are nocturnal hunters and use their electrorecptors and sense of smell and feed mainly on small fish and crustaceans.

Behavior

The female lays two egg capsules at a time approximately every week over a two-month period. Hatching occurs in about 128 days and pups are about 4 to 5 inches long.

It has been found that females of this species can produce viable offspring asexually via parthenogenesis. This refers to the female’s being able to create and sustain a shark pup without a male shark and without ever having mated. This has only ever been observed in the cases of sharks in captivity, but may well occur in the wild where there is a severe shortage of male sharks.

Predators

Larger sharks are predators of the Whitespotted Bamboo Shark. The white-spotted bamboo shark is listed as “Near Threatened” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Threats to this animal include collection for human consumption and habitat degradation due to dynamite and cyanide fishing. Marine debris, or any garbage that ends up in the ocean, instead of the landfill or recycling center, is also a problem.

Epaulette Shark

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by wgoodman

The shark’s cream-colored body is covered with many brown dots and, above its pectoral fins, two large black spots (ocelli). Those spots look like ornamental epaulettes on a military uniform—hence the shark’s name. Predators hovering above the shark could easily mistake the spots for eyes of a larger, more dangerous fish and dash off to find smaller prey. Muscular pectoral fins enable this shark to “walk” along the seafloor. When disturbed, instead of swimming out of danger, it sometimes quickly “runs” away.

An interesting fact about the epaulette shark is that it can actually turn off its non-essential bodily functions for several hours in order to survive in low-oxygen areas in the water. This is helpful when they get caught in tide pools. Scientists are conducting research on this shark in order to find out how it works so they can use that knowledge to help stroke patients or patients undergoing heart surgeries.

Habitat

They are found in shallow waters of coral reefs and in tide pools in Indo-West Pacific: New Guinea and Australia.

Diet

This shark hunts at night using its electrorecptors and sense of smell, often in tide pools, where it feeds on bottom dwellers like small fish and crustaceans. When eating animals with hard shells, the shark’s spiky, sharp teeth flatten to form crushing plates.

Behavior

Each female may release up to 50 eggs annually. These egg cases measure approximately 3.9 inches in length and 1.6 inches in width and hatch after about 120 days. When the young emerge, each measures around 5.9 inches in length. Growth is slow, measuring about 1.2 inches during the first year.

Predators

Larger fish and other sharks are predators of the Epaulette sharks.

Marbled Shark

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by wgoodman

The Marbled shark is also known as the Coral catshark. The eyes are set in front of large spiracles, which are used to move water into the gill chambers when the shark is at rest or feeding. The name comes from the cat-like shape and the color of the eyes.

Habitat

They are commonly seen on shallow reefs in temperate and tropical waters. They range in Pakistan to New Guinea, Philippines, China and southern Japan. They live among coral branches and in the holes and tight crevices of the reef.

Diet

They are nocturnal and feed on bottom dwelling invertebrates and small fish that they find using their electroreceptors and sense of smell.

Behavior

This species is oviviparous. The female coral catshark lay purse-shaped egg cases, usually two at a time, with tendrils to anchor the cases to the bottom. The pups are about 4 inches long at birth, and are rarely encountered as they spend their time sequestered within the reef, out of the way of predators.

Predators

Larger fish and sharks are known predators of the marbled shark.

Cownose Ray

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by wgoodman

The rays in this tank are called Cownose rays. Cownose rays are related to sharks and skates. They get their name from their unique forehead, which resembles the nose of a cow. They are brown to olive colored. Their tails can range in length, some can be twice as long as their body.

Habitat

Cownose Rays are found in the Atlantic Ocean and along western Africa, the eastern U.S., Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. They can inhabit inshore, shallow bays and estuaries. They prefer warm temperate and tropical waters of depths of 72 feet.

Diet

Cownose rays feed on bottom-dwelling shellfish and fish. To locate their prey, cownose rays use electro-receptors located on their snouts as well as excellent senses of smell and touch to hunt. They use their wingtips to stir up the bottom or use their snouts to dig around in the mud or sand. Once they locate their prey, they rapidly flap their wings to move aside any sand that may be covering the prey item.

They suck water and sand in through their mouth and out through their gills. This vacuum effect allows them to easily uncover the prey item that is buried.

Stingrays do not have teeth, what they have instead are teeth-like structures known as grinding plates. These plates are used to grind and crush up their food and are perfect for crushing hard-shelled prey. They spit out the shells and swallow only the soft-bodied parts that are left.

Behavior

The saw- like barb (or stinger) which stingrays are known for, is located where their tail and the body meet. The barbs are their only method to defend themselves when feeling threatened. Stingrays can only inject their barb if something comes into direct contact with it. This species of ray is known for traveling in large schools. Like many species of sharks and rays, Cownose rays develop within eggs that are carried and hatched within their mother’s uterus.

Predators

Although Cownose rays grow large enough to fend off most predators, they are still hunted by large sharks, such as great hammerhead and bull sharks.

Motoro Rays

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by wgoodman

The motoro is one of three main species of the Potamotrygonidae family. The genus name, Potamotrygon, is from the Greek potamos that means ‘river’ and trygon, which means ‘three angles’, and may refer to its body shape. Stingrays are fish that have enlarged pectoral fins that connect around the body and head to form a disc. They do not have a dorsal fin, the ray will look relatively flat from the side, and the head will be even with the body. The eyes are located on the sides of the top of the head and directly behind them will lie the spiracles. The spiracles are openings in which water is pulled into the ray and over the gills to facilitate oxygen exchange.

Habitat

Freshwater river systems – calm waters, especially the sandy edges of lagoons, brooks and streams.

Diet

Motoro rays eat crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish that swim near the bottom.

Behavior

Stingrays have venomous spines along their tail that they use for defense. The spines are modified scales, tipped with barbs. Each spine has grooves on its underside that contain venom-producing soft tissue. If a ray feels threatened, it will erect the spines and use them to inject venom into the predator. The spines are constantly being shed and replaced. The venom affects the heart, lungs, and nervous system of the predator.

Females produce eggs, but these develop inside the female. The young hatch inside the female and are then ‘born’ live after a gestation period of no more than three months. The litter size varies massively, from 3 to 21 young.

Predators

There are very few natural predators to this type of stingray. Since these stingrays are found in freshwater, they do not have the threat of sharks, therefore, the main threat to these stingrays is overfishing. People commonly hunt them for food, particularly when water levels are low and they are easy to find. In some areas they are also hunted commercially. Habitat degradation and the construction of hydroelectric plants have also had an adverse effect on their environment.