They shock and scare us, but no other creature captures our imagination quite like the shark. A visit to Kelly Tarlton's will get you eye-to-eye with these feared predators.
Sharks have existed for over 400 million years, which is more than 100 million years before the dinosaur. There are more than 350 species of shark in the world, of which only three inhabit Kelly Tarlton's predator tank: Broadnose Sevengill, School and Wobbegong sharks. Our newest arrivals, the fearsome Sand Tiger shark, are currently in the Oceanarium for a settling in period. Soon they'll join the other sharks in the Predator Tank.
The Predator Tank
The Predator Tank in Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World is designed to provide as few obstacles as possible for the sharks. This makes it more like the Shark's natural environment, the open sea. Our Predator Tank alone contains more than a million litres of seawater pumped straight from Waitemata harbour.
Hand-feeding our Sharks
This is our favourite job! Every Tuesday and Thursday our sharks are hand fed by two divers, each with a bucket of Mullet and Kahawai. The sharks eat up to 100 kilograms of food a week. Even if they're not hungry, some of the sharks enjoy giving our divers a good 'nudge', just to remind them of their presence!
Sharks can have up to 3000 teeth in a lifetime. Because of wear and tear they shed their teeth regularly. If you look closely on the floor of the tank you're likely to see their old pearly whites! Most sharks have about five rows of teeth.
During the past 150 years in New Zealand, there has been an average of just 2.6 shark attacks per decade and only one fatal attack every 13 years! Worldwide, less than 30 shark attacks have been recorded annually for the past 50 years. Of those, just seven have been fatal.
There are more than 350 species of shark and very few are regarded as a threat to humans. Great White, Bull sharks and Tiger sharks have the worst reputation.
You have a far greater risk of; being killed on the road whilst driving to the beach, drowning at the beach, or being killed by Elephants, Bees, Crocodiles or lightning than you do of being attacked, let alone killed by a shark.
Did you know? It is estimated that humans kill about 100 million sharks per year!
Photo copyright Kelly Tarltons Underwater World.