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Sand tiger sharks swim into Newport Aquarium

Sand tiger shark close up at Newport Aquarium.jpg
Newport Aquarium
Sand tiger shark close up at Newport Aquarium.

The Newport Aquarium has some new residents — three toothy sand tiger sharks are now patrolling the tanks, serving as species ambassadors and research subjects.

The two males and one female are nearly seven feet long and are in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. Sand tiger sharks are generally easy to recognize because of how their jagged teeth protrude from their mouths.

"Sand tiger sharks are really cool as far as their toothy grins," says Ashlyn Irons, public relations manager with the Newport Aquarium. "Their teeth are really standouts, really catch your eye, and they are also about seven feet long. They're really what you picture when you picture a shark."

Three sand tigers swim together at Newport Aquarium.jpg
Newport Aquarium
Three sand tigers swim together at Newport Aquarium.

The sharks were sent to the aquarium through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for sand tiger sharks. Irons' says they were "sustainably attained" after working with the SSP and other zoos.

"We'll be taking care of them and also observing them — observing their movements, their habits," Irons explains. "With science, more information means better care and better things that we can take away and apply in the wild, as well, especially, for vulnerable species."

The sand tiger shark is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Though they look threatening, sand tiger sharks are "known to be relatively docile, eating mainly fish, lobster and some rays," according the aquarium. "They can often be found in shallow bays and inshore tropical waters and have even been spotted circling shipwrecks off the coast of the Eastern United States."

The sharks also need names. The aquarium is taking recommendations through the end of the year. The winning names are expected to be announced in early 2023.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.