Our last blog entry focused on how we ship small fish from our Bahamas collecting expedition, but what about the big guys? Transporting sharks is a whole different story. It requires a lot of specialized equipment and a huge team of experienced staff and volunteers. Senior staff develop a plan weeks before the actual transport. One of the most important preparations is equipping the transport truck with the necessary life support system.
For a large sandtiger shark, we use a 9-foot fiberglass tank with a rapid sand filter and hayward pump to keep the water clean and flowing. It is also essential to continuously bubble oxygen into the water. While on the road, dissolved oxygen and temperature are monitored constantly to ensure the best water quality for the duration of the trip.
Once the transport team arrives at the Aquarium, they are met by another team who will assist in getting the shark from the transport truck to the Giant Ocean Tank exhibit (GOT). First, a large stretcher designed specifically for shark handling is lowered into the transport tank.
Once the shark is gently coaxed into the stretcher, several staff and volunteers lift the shark up and out of the truck.
Once at the top of the exhibit, the stretcher is attached to an electronic hoist and slowly lowered into the GOT.
Two staff divers accept the stretcher, and bring the shark to the bottom of the tank. Once the stretcher is opened, it generally it takes anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for the shark to come out and begin swimming. Check out this video of divers introducing the shark to the Giant Ocean Tank:
We currently have three sand tiger sharks; all were acclimated to the GOT using this transport method.