Silvertip shark released off Durban coastline

The silvertip shark is darted to sedate it prior to being released

Four years after being introduced into the Reef Predator exhibit at uShaka Sea World, a young silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) was released this week several kilometres off the Durban coastline.

The shark, which now weighs 30kg, was one of eight silvertips in the exhibit, the first of this shark species to be introduced to the Aquarium.

After briefing staff and being given the go-ahead by uShaka’s resident veterinarian, two divers entered the exhibit to dart the shark for removal. After about 45 minutes the shark was sufficiently sedated and could be eased gently into a transportation bag, out of the exhibit and into a specially designed transport tank.

She was then driven to the beach just south of uShaka Marine World to be weighed, measured and tagged before being stretchered to a boat that took her out to sea in the transport tank.

Although many hours were spent planning her release, the entire process, from the time staff gathered for the briefing until the time she was released into the sea, took less than two hours.

Aquarists rush the silvertip shark to a waiting boat for transport out to the sea off Durban

Exhibiting different species of large predators together is both an art and a science, with the health and welfare of individual animals constantly being monitored and recorded. 

uShaka Sea World tags all sharks on release because the information gathered from recaptures provides valuable information that Oceanographic Research Institute scientists use to measure shark growth patterns and shark movement. 

Silvertip sharks grow to about 3m in length and are easily distinguished from other sharks by the striking white tips marking all of their fins.

In the Large Shark exhibit in the aquarium there are two giant guitar fish, five ragged-tooth sharks, silvertips, a Galapagos shark, a blacktail reef shark, a dusky shark and two massive brindle bass.

This is a spectacular exhibit that keeps aquarium visitors spellbound as they take in the size and beauty of these magnificent ocean predators.

To see more pictures of the silvertip shark release, click here.

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