At four and five feet long, the two female sharks had outgrown their tanks at the Sea Life Aquarium in Tempe, Ariz. They traveled to Albuquerque on Friday, May 16 and are adjusting well to their new environment in the BioPark's 285,000 gallon tank.
Rich Lerner, Curator of Fishes, traveled to Tempe with other Aquarium
staff to pick up the new sharks and drive them back to New Mexico. Lerner, who helped to open the Albuquerque's Aquarium in 1995, has many years of experience transporting large aquatic animals, and developed a special system to truck the sharks 6 hours across
the desert. Suspended safely with a harness and bungee cords, the sharks traveled in large water-tight containers built by carpenters at the BioPark. A system of pumps created a continual flow of water over the animals, and staff closely monitored the water
temperature and quality throughout the trip.
Watch a video about the sharks' journey.
"It's a little stressful on all of us," says Lerner. "It's stressful for
us because we want to make sure the transport is safe for the animals, and it's stressful for them to be in a new environment. We keep the dissolved oxygen in the water pretty high to help the sharks stay relaxed and not struggle to breathe. A harness cut
specifically for each shark allows them to move in the water, and they are suspended by bungee cords, which act as shock absorbers for any bumps in the road and when the truck breaks. "
Sandbar sharks live in coastal regions around the world and are considered
threatened because of overfishing. They can live between 19 and 21 years, and may grow to roughly seven feet. The two new sharks join several other sandbar sharks and four other shark species.