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Keith

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Fish | Sharks

Friday, October 17, 2008

David

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.

Keith
Keith likes to chill  | © David Chen
Keith
Keith cruises around his home  | © David Chen
Keith
Keith swims to his feeding station at chow time  | © David Chen

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MarineDepot's avatar

MarineDepot

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 12:31 PM

Great introduction to Keith the nurse shark. When you mentioned that other aquariums have trained their nurse sharks to swim onto a platform to be fed ... did you mean within a tank? I assume so, but just thought I’d ask. How large will a male nurse shark grow? How long will he live?

David's avatar

David

Thursday, October 23, 2008 02:55 PM

At the Oceanario Islas del Rosario, they have trained their nurse sharks to swim onto a platform located in the exhibit. While on the platform, the sharks are rewarded with a tasty treat. Then a hand signal is used to tell the sharks to retreat back into the water. Nurse sharks have brains comparable to that of birds.
Male nurse sharks can reach a total body length of around 14 ft but it is rare that they reach that size. The lifespan of a male is around 30 years. Females live longer.
Thanks for your questions.

MarineDepot's avatar

MarineDepot

Thursday, October 23, 2008 02:57 PM

Hey, np. I’m happy you responded. :-)

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