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|Stingray Bay and Shark Lagoon|
Four species of sharks grace Shark lagoon: Nurse, Blacknose, Sandtiger and the beautiful Zebra shark. They share the exhibit with Bluefish, Yellow Tail snapper, and the Great Barracuda.
o Nurse sharks (Ginglyomostoma cirratum) are nocturnal, resting on sandy bottoms or in crevices during the day. They are born about 12 inches long and can reach 14 feet long as adults.
o Blacknose Shark (Charcharhinus acronotus) reach maximum lengths of 4.5 feet and have an approximate lifespan of 9-10 years
o Sandtiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) can grow to 9 feet in length. Sandtiger sharks come to the surface to gulp air, which they hold in their stomach, this allows the shark to hover motionless in the water.
o Zebra Shark (Stegostoma varium) can grow up to 11.5 feet. These elegant creatures are fluid in movement; when at rest, they appear to be ‘standing’ on their pectoral fins.
When you visit, be sure to read the signage around the exhibit to learn shark facts and fiction, and why they’re in danger.
Cousins to the sharks are the rays in Stingray Bay, one of the most mesmerizing indoor exhibits. Up to three kinds of rays– Atlantic, Southern and Cownose - ‘fly’ by at eye level. Watch for Hoover, the Southern Ray with the 4-foot wingspan, and for Charlotte the Green sea turtle, who lives with the rays.
o Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) are found in the Western Atlantic from as far north as Massachusetts to as far south as Brazil. Rays are a cartilaginous fish, which means they lack a true backbone, have the ability to sense electromagnetic fields and lack a swim bladder - with few exceptions they will sink if they stop swimming.
o Southern Stingrays (Dasyatis Americana) prefer shallow coastal and estuarine habitats. Female southern stingrays can reach a maximum width of 8 feet, while males reach a maximum width of 6 feet.
o Atlantic Rays (Dasyatis sabina) are the smallest and most colorful rays at Mystic Aquarium. They prefer the shallow water of coastlines and estuaries, and unlike most other ray species, can tolerate both salt and fresh water.
Charlotte came from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Ga., in November 2008. She was found stranded on Cumberland Island, Ga., and taken to the center in January 2008. Her shell and hind flippers were covered with barnacles, and she had been struck by a boat’s propeller. A CT scan and MRI revealed a fracture or break in her vertebrae and a compressed spinal cord, which partially paralyzed her intestinal tract and hind flippers. The paralysis prevents normal movement of her gastrointestinal tract, causing gas to accumulate, which makes it difficult for her to dive. As a result, she floats with her rear end up.
Though Charlotte has been deemed non-releasable, there is a chance that, with long-term rehabilitation, she could recover and possibly be released back into the ocean in future years. Until then, she is serving as an ambassador for her species, educating visitors on how they can help protect sea turtles.
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