Our very own Mr. Science — Aquarium Curator Ryan Ross — plays a starring role in this summer’s PBS STEAM Camp, in a segment about the science behind the Silverton Aquarium.
The episode premieres Thursday June 9 at 2pm on Vegas PBS. The episode can be viewed online here.
Designed to support the educational needs of children in elementary school, Vegas PBS STEAM Camp brings the fun and discovery associated with camp directly into viewers’ homes. Now in its third season, this Emmy Award-winning series continues to engage audiences through at-home STEAM challenges and science exploration in the Las Vegas community.
Shark Week holds a very special place in our hearts. As you know, our Aquarium is one of the best free attractions in Las Vegas and we constantly add new fish and species to our ecosystem. Did you know that we have a few sharks, too? Our Aquarium, which holds over 117,000 gallons of water, is home to thousands of tropical fish. It’s also home to four different kinds of sharks. Sure, they’re not the large predatory kind that pops into your head when you think of sharks, but they’re a cute bunch! In honor of Shark Week, we’re introducing to you the sharks in our Aquarium.
Found in the Pacific Ocean, this docile shark can grow up to three feet in length and can be found primarily near the Indo-West Pacific Ocean regions of Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan and the Philippines. Since they’re smaller sharks, they prefer living in shallow tropical reefs. Their slender bodies allow them to glide between coral branches and hide in the small crevices of reefs.
The white-spotted bamboo shark is also known as “cat sharks” because their nasal barbels look like cat whiskers. These “whiskers” help them locate food in the sand. In the ocean, their diet consists of shrimp, small fish, and crab. These nocturnal predators usually scour the sea bottom for food. In our Aquarium, our white-spotted bamboo sharks are fed shrimp, squid, smelt, and mackerel. We also have albino versions of this shark which lacks the brown coloration and are completely white. Watch our Aquatics team feed them below.
California Horn Shark (Heterodontus francisci)
This California horn shark is a sluggish species with edges above the eyes and a pig-like snout and belongs to the bullhead shark family. They can grow up to three feet in length and are unique because of the small horn that grows right in front of their dorsal fins. These sluggish and nocturnal creatures hunt food closer to shore at night and return to their familiar resting place during the day.
These horn sharks are not considered a threat to humans because of their small size and teeth structure. They can live more than a decade and are usually fed shrimp, squid, smelt, and mackerel in our Aquarium. In the wild, they usually feed on shrimp, crab, sea urchins, and small fishes. Primarily found in warm-temperate waters, these sharks are found in the eastern Pacific Ocean from central California to the Gulf of California. We’ve named our California horn shark, Bruce. Say hello to him near the bubble window at our Aquarium where he likes to rest during the day.
Japanese Leopard Shark (Triakis scyllium)
The Japanese leopard shark can grow up to five feet in length, which makes it the largest shark in our Aquarium. Their maximum lifespan is about 30 years but can live up to 20 years in captivity in aquariums. These shark “homebodies” usually remain in the same area for much of their lives and are most common in shallow water, usually following the tide onto mudflats to forage for food. They feed on animals that live in mud, like crabs, shrimp, octopuses and small fish. In our Aquarium, our leopard shark is usually fed shrimp, squid, smelt, mackerel.
These sharks can be found primarily in the northwest Pacific Ocean near shallow waters, but in our Aquarium they can be found swimming near the front of the coral and guests will usually see him at the 1:30 pm stingray feedings. Leopard sharks are the most common species of shark in San Francisco Bay. However, last year hundreds of leopard sharks were found dead in the San Francisco Bay. This mass mortality event could have been caused by meningitis because of a fungal bloom in the stagnant shallow water where they usually reside.
Coral Catshark (Atelomycterus marmoratus)
The coral catshark can grow up to two feet in length, making it the smallest shark in our Aquarium. This shark derives its name from its cat-like eyes and slender body. Surprisingly, little is known about the biology of this specific catshark. Primarily found in the Indo-West Pacific from Pakistan to New Guinea, the coral catshark thrives in coral reefs, living in crevices and holes in the reef. Our shark likes to hide in the corals and rockwork as well!
In the ocean, this shark feeds off small, bottom-living invertebrates and bony fishes. In our Aquarium, it is fed shrimp, squid, smelt, and mackerel. Despite its small size, these sharks are semi-aggressive and active swimmers, spending much of their time in caves and crevices. The coral catshark is recognized as one of the best species of shark for a home aquarium.
Shark Eggs in our Aquarium
Here’s a white-spotted bamboo shark egg. Our albino and spotted bamboo sharks have been mating in our Aquarium and have laid eggs. The female will lay her eggs in the Aquarium and our staff usually find them wrapped around coral pieces. The juvenile will hatch at about 14 to 15 weeks and be around six inches. Since we also have albino bamboo sharks in our Aquarium, it’ll be a surprise for us to see if the hatchling will be standard coloration or also albino.
Watch as the baby shark wriggles inside the egg below.
Visit our Aquarium for free mermaid shows and our daily stingray feedings. If you spot one of our sharks, don’t be afraid to wave hello.