Thursday, November 16, 2017

Critter Tale - Smooth Dogfish Shark

Phoebe Finn, communications intern

Hello! I’m a Smooth dogfish shark, and I am new here at Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium! I’m visiting the Exploration Center from Narragansett Bay, where I grew up and will spend the rest of my life. That is, after a short stay here. I’m only a couple of years old and probably won’t fit in this four-foot deep tank by the time I’m a full grown adult, but that’s okay, because one of my friends from the Bay will be happy to take my spot for me once I head back into open waters.

I was super-excited to hang out with some new friends, but the Chain dogfish in my tank are nocturnal and sleep all day long! So I swim around near the surface and watch them get woken up by the curious horseshoe crab. And I spend a lot of time trying to check out the little humans who seem so delighted to see me here.

These little humans try to touch me, and sometimes I let them, but my tank is deep enough to avoid their fingers if I’m feeling a little shy that day. They think I will swim right into their hands, but little do they know that I can feel their heartbeat through the water, similar to a wave. New humans kind of scare me, so I usually wait for them to hang around my tank for a while before I come up to say hello. Most people act afraid of me, but I am much more afraid of them.

Most dogfish love to play around in shallow waters anywhere from Massachusetts to Florida, but the Bay is my favorite place. I love to swim with other young sharks, horseshoe crabs and fish in the cold water. I am a bottom dweller in the Bay, which means I eat crustaceans and small bivalves off the ocean floor and rarely get seen by humans.

I will become a mom once I reach maturity in a couple of years, which is pretty exciting. I will lay up to 20 delicate egg pouches, called Mermaid Purses, which take close to eleven months to hatch into little shark pups! The Bay will be a safe and healthy place for me to raise my pups.

It’s cool that all of the marine animals at the Exploration Center have a safe place to live and the ability to teach humans about themselves and the environment. I am happy to be hanging out here for a couple of weeks before I get back into Narragansett Bay, where I will eventually grow into a mature shark and have shark pups of my own to protect!

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