Powell, OH – The cownose and southern stingrays of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Stingray Bay have two new cartilaginous companions.
Two epaulette sharks (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) have been added to the 18,000-gallon saltwater pool at Stingray Bay following a successful introduction to the Zoo’s rays. The sharks were moved from the Zoo’s Discovery Reef. Stingrays and epaulette sharks are both cartilaginous marine fish, meaning they have a boneless skeleton made of a tough, elastic substance much like the tip of a human nose.
Epaulette sharks reside in the western Pacific Ocean in waters around New Guinea and northern Australia. They have slender bodies that allow them to swim between coral branches and wriggle into narrow reef crevices during their nighttime hunt for prey. The shark’s cream-colored body is covered with many brown dots and, above its pectoral fins, two large black spots. Those spots look like ornamental epaulettes on a military uniform — hence the shark's name.
When epaulette sharks are caught in tide pools by the receding tides, they can turn off enough body functions to survive several hours with little or no oxygen. Researchers are working to discover how the shark manages with so little oxygen, as the answer might help in the treatment of stroke patients or during heart surgeries.
Located in Jungle Jack’s Landing, Stingray Bay is open daily from 10 a.m. to Zoo closing through Sept. 2. Admission is to Stingray Bay is free for Columbus Zoo Gold Members, $2 for Zoo Members and Zoombezi Bay Season Pass holders and $3 for general admission. Guests may also have the chance to feed the animals at random times throughout the day for an additional fee of $2.
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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 575 species from around the globe. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; contributing more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. www.columbuszoo.org