|Everyone looks forward to breakfast!|
The topic of feeding (and eating!) comes up a lot throughout the Aquarium. It makes sense—eating is one of those universal things that all of us organisms need to do. With over 100 animals in the touch tank, visitors often are curious to learn how we feed so many animals in one place.
The first question many people ask is what do we feed the animals in the exhibit. Fortunately, all of the different species of sharks and rays eat the same types of food. So what’s on the menu? Mealtime usually includes squid, small fish, clams and shrimp. The diet is prepared first thing in the morning and then fed to the exhibit throughout the day.
As feeding time arrives, food is simply scattered on the sandy bottom of the exhibit. Both sharks and rays will cruise over the sand, picking up pieces of food as they go. To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get something to eat, the exhibit has food added to it a couple of times a day. But the animals never know when it’s coming—we change the times slightly each day to keep them guessing!
|Making sure everyone gets something to eat|
|Food sinking to the bottom|
As the food sinks to the bottom, animals come from all over the exhibit to the two main sandy areas. Even those animals that usually hide during the day, including the sharks, will come out for a snack! In a flurry of fins, tails, and mouths, the food is gone in no time!
With a keen sense of smell, these animals can locate their prey easily. And as their mouths are located on, or near, the bottom of their body, scooping up food from sand is no problem. Both the rays and sharks will eat when they are hungry, so it's possible that every animal might not eat at each meal. But with feedings happening throughout the day, everyone has the opportunity to find a yummy snack when they want one.
|A white-spotted bamboo shark and her squid snack!|
Perhaps next time you visit the Aquarium, you might just be in time to see the shark and stingray touch tank exhibit animals get something to eat. Consider buying your tickets online and printing them at home so you can zip in the door when you arrive. Here's where to start planning your next visit!
And in case you're hungry for a snack of your own, head over to the New England Aquarium's website for environmentally friendly seafood options and seafood recipes. Bon appetit!