Here at Mystic Aquarium, where sharks and rays are both part of our interactive experiences, fun and learning is right at your fingertips.
For sharks, maybe more than any other species, learning is critical. While they are among the most diverse, with 465 known species, myths about sharks also make them one of the most misunderstood in all the animal kingdom. They are also one of the most important. As apex predators, sharks are essential to the health of our ocean ecosystem.
Sharks’ fellow elasmobranch, the stringray, may not look like it with their wide, flat bodies and wing-like fins, but trust us, they are fish! The class of stingray is as unique as its form. The various species can range in size from mere inches up to six-and-a-half feet and from just a pound up to 790 pounds! Some stingrays move their whole bodies in a wave motion while others flap their fins. They all use their tails for defense and eat an array of clams, oysters, shrimps, crabs and mussels.
Sand tiger sharks gulp air at the water’s surface to help them regulate their buoyancy and swimming depth.
They have one of the lowest reproduction rates of all sharks.
Sand tiger sharks go by a variety of names around the world; including ragged tooth shark, grey nurse shark and slender tooth shark (just to name a few). They have a unique behavior to maintain neutral buoyancy, which helps them hunt quietly and motionless. By gulping air at the surface and holding it in its stomach, the shark can float at any point in the water column they choose.
A large shark, the sand tiger shark reaches an average size from 6 to 9 feet in length and up to 300 pounds. Sand tiger sharks are easily recognizable by their numerous protruding teeth and large, notched upper lobe of the tail. The young sharks at Mystic Aquarium will have dark spots throughout their brown or grey body but these spots will fade as they mature.
HABITAT: Shallow bays to coral reefs
RANGE: These sharks have a wide distribution and can be found in subtropical and warm temperate waters around the world including coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, South America, Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, Australia and Japan.
STATUS: IUCN Red List Status – Vulnerable
THREATS: Overfishing and fisheries interactions