By Jeff Gallatin
A newcomer to the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center has staff and visitors alike very “egg”-cited about its addition to the center’s population.
A bamboo shark hatched from its egg Nov. 17 and is now a part of the renovated saltwater Ocean Exhibit at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. The egg was added in September by staff from the Salty Critter, the Vermilion business that helps the center with the exhibit.
Amy LeMonds, director of wildlife at the center, said the shark’s hatching was eagerly awaited.
“After we got it, the egg was expected to hatch sometime in late October and complete the renovation project,” she said. “So, we let visitors and other people know about it, which made for a lot of interest. We’d have schoolchildren and other visitors who wanted to know if it had hatched yet, or come in hoping to see it. We were actually starting to wonder what might be up or if something had gone wrong, since sometimes that just happens in nature.”
LeMonds said she was as fascinated by the shark egg as anybody.
“It was kind of cool, because you could see it moving around in the egg,” she said. “It was fun because you see it that small in the egg but you know it’s going to get bigger. Our guess for the reason for it being born later than expected is that they probably just were off in the estimate as to when the egg was originally laid.”
Bamboo sharks are born with black stripes, which fade slowly to brown as the shark ages. At maturity, they will be between two to three feet long. Their gender cannot be determined this shortly after birth. They feed on small crustaceans and typically can be found near the ground in sandy areas under cracks and ledges of coral.
“He’s already made himself a small hiding place under some sand and coral in the display,” LeMonds said.
One of the unfortunate side effects of Superstorm Sandy last year was the power being knocked out at the center, which affected some displays and exhibits, LeMonds said.
“We had people checking the center during the storm, but unfortunately by their very nature saltwater displays are very delicate,” LeMonds said. “They need the power to keep the balance in the display system, and having the power knocked out for a time really caused a problem with the display and the animals in it.”
Center officials have rebuilt the display with the assistance and expertise of Salty Critter, which specializes in saltwater creatures and equipment. The shark joins other recent additions, including a snowflake eel, clown triggerfish, rectangular triggerfish and a stars and stripes puffer. They join a Cortez stingray, lunare wrasse, banana wrasse, and lionfish.
“The people from Salty Critter are great,” she said. “We aren’t experts in everything at the center, and they have a lot of knowledge and are great to work with.”
LeMonds said center officials intend to have a saltwater display for a long time.
“Saltwater aquariums are a lot of work, but well worth it,” she said. “The water quality of our ocean tank has been well-balanced, and we’re so happy the tank and its inhabitants are thriving.”