Aquarium Animal News
Gang of four
Sharks are the stars of the underwater world and yet some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. On 16 January 2019, the population of blacktip reef sharks at Aquarium Berlin doubled in size, with the arrival of two new females from Leipzig.
The excitement was palpable last Wednesday morning as the Aquarium Berlin team eagerly awaited the arrival of a special articulated lorry carrying unusual cargo –female blacktip reef sharks Elke (20) and Susi (6), who had journeyed here from Zoo Leipzig. Thanks to large water tanks with special filter technology, the short journey was a breeze for the two ladies. But the transportation of larger marine creatures always presents a particular challenge. “Most species of shark need to be constantly on the move,” explains Zoo and Aquarium Director Dr Andreas Knieriem, who is a qualified veterinarian. “That is the only way they can breathe, as swimming keeps water and oxygen flowing over their gills.”
As soon as they arrived, the two reef sharks were introduced into the aquarium’s shark tank. There, they met Aquarium Berlin’s existing blacktip reef shark inhabitants Hugo (20) and Heike (4). The first meeting went very smoothly and was entirely amicable. Sharks regularly encounter other members of their species in the wild, too, and sometimes come together to form loose unions. Contrary to popular belief, sharks very rarely (if ever) display aggressive behaviour. Nevertheless, they are brutally hunted in their millions by humans. The animals are particularly sought after for the production of shark fin soup – which generally involves the shark being caught and having its fin cut off while still alive, before being thrown back into the water to die. This form of hunting is the main reason for the decline in the global shark population.
With the addition of Susi and Elke, Aquarium Berlin is now home to four blacktip reef sharks. Measuring around 1.2 metres in length, Elke is the largest of the gang. There are hopes that the group may eventually produce young. Aquarium Berlin’s shark tank is equipped with the latest flow engineering technology. That means the Berlin animals are exposed to different and above all changing currents, as they would be in the wild. Visitors to the aquarium can watch the sharks in action during the weekly show feedings that take place every Monday and Thursday at 2:30 p.m.