Friday, October 17, 2008
Keith is dark brown in color and has a broad, flat snout with barbels dangling from his nose. He uses these barbels to sense food on the ocean floor. In his mouth, you will find rows and rows of tiny teeth which are used for holding and grinding. Keith has a very broad torso but he is not fat, he is just well rounded. Unlike many sharks, Keith’s two triangular dorsal fins are both the same size.
He can usually be found resting on the bottom. Keith has special muscles in his mouth that pump water past his gills which means that Keith can breath just fine without having to swim all the time. These same muscles give Keith the ability to slurp up prey like a vacuum. His favorite foods include mullet, hoki, mahi, and herring. Keith is not picky at all about his food. As long as it is meaty and fresh, he will eat it.
When you look into Keith’s eyes, you get the feeling that this is a very smart animal. Other aquariums have trained their nurse sharks to swim onto a platform to be fed, much like a dolphin. Keith is not required to perform such feats. We only trained him to go to a specific part of his exhibit to be fed.
Baby nurse sharks can sometimes be found in pet stores but they do not make good pets. Keith is an adult nurse shark. He is 10 feet long and weighs roughly 300 pounds. Most people do not have fish tanks that can accommodate such an enormous animal.
Nurse sharks can be found in the waters off the coasts of Baja, all the way to Peru. They are also found in the Atlantic from Rhode Island all the way to Brazil. Should you ever encounter one in the ocean, leave it alone. Despite its docile appearance, a nurse shark will defend itself if it feels threatened.
Say hi to our friend, Keith the nurse shark, the next time you visit Shark Lagoon.
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