The Deep News - January 2017



5th January 2017

We're delighted to welcome the first Zebra shark pups (Stegostoma fasciatum) to be conceived and hatched in the UK. After witnessing courtship and copulatory behaviour between our pair in November 2014 we observed laying cues - where the female begins to slowly circle potential lay sites. Our female began laying eggs at the beginning of March 2015, with a total of 29 eggs being produced between March and July. Of these 29 eggs, 18 contained no yolk and 11 were potentially viable. 

The egg cases were laid in our 10m multi-taxa Endless Oceans display and were removed as soon as they were found to eliminate any risk of predation. The eggs were moved to an incubation tank behind the scenes so that any development could be carefully monitored. The incubation tank, attached to our Coral propagation system, maintains a consistently high level of water quality and is a very stable system, which is key to successfully incubating the eggs. Females typically lay eggs in 6-8 day intervals for a period of 4-5 months, with incubation taking between 120 and 160 days. The incubation period is dependent on water temperature - the higher the temperature the shorter the incubation.

The eggs were candled fortnightly using a high powered torch to gauge their viability. Of the 11 potentially viable eggs only 6 developed embryos. The eggs continued to be candled every 2 weeks to monitor internal development and the egg cases carefully cleaned to remove any build-up of detritus.

On emergence the newly hatched pups are given a thorough health check and their weight and length is recorded. They begin feeding 1-2 weeks after hatching and are being fed 2-3% of their body weight daily. This is typically spread over 3 feeds as the sharks will not consume a large amount of food in one sitting. Plastic forceps were used to hold a small piece of squid just in front of a juveniles’ mouth and once feeding on a regular basis, new food types are introduced, such as mackerel, prawn and mussel.

The sharks will be weighed and measured weekly to monitor development and feeding is adjusted accordingly. We are pleased to say that so far all 6 juveniles are growing and developing well.



3rd January 2017

We're delighted to host a series of marine themed art installations in celebration of Hull’s year in the spotlight as the City of Culture 2017. The first of the six artists who will showcase their work is Mandy Barker, an award- winning photographic artist whose work involving marine plastic debris has received global recognition. Their works will illustrate the diversity of marine wildlife in our oceans, their stunning habitats and the threats they face. 

The motivation for Mandy's work is to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world's oceans whilst highlighting the harmful effect on marine life and ultimately ourselves. Born in Hull, her recently recognised work was originally inspired from visits to Spurn Point. Barker has since been commended with a number of awards and her series ‘SOUP’ has been published in over 25 countries. Visitors will be able to enjoy Mandy’s work when visiting The Deep in January and February 2017. Find out more about Mandy here.

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