Tiger Shark Rejects Aquarium's Gourmet Fillets

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Picky shark i

A tiger shark at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Island, Calif., is rejecting high-quality meals. Courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific
Picky shark

A tiger shark at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Island, Calif., is rejecting high-quality meals.

Courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific

When you think about sharks, you might think of hard-core carnivores that will eat just about anything — fish, seals, the occasional surfer.

But at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, Calif., one tiger shark is exhibiting some unusual behavior: She's a picky eater.

"We do have on the menu a restaurant quality, very high quality, diverse array of food, including ahi tuna, skipjack tuna, mahi-mahi fillets and fillets of hoki," says Steve Blair, the aquarium's assistant curator. But the shark turns up her nose.

Blair says he thinks the shark is just fearful of new things. She is 11 months old and only 35 pounds. Sharks her size are typically prey to bigger sharks, he says.

"She's pretty much afraid of everything," he says. "So she's very nervous because of her age and size."

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The Aquarium of the Pacific acquired the shark through a collector in Taiwan. Blair is concerned about her finicky eating while in the exhibit.

"We like days when she looks comfortable in the exhibit, and she eats well and eats easily," he says.

Slowly, the shark's caretakers are learning what she will and will not eat. Skipjack is OK. Hoki, not so much.

"The mystery of the tiger shark is unfolding before us," he says. "We don't know a lot about these animals, but as we push the boundaries of husbandry out, we're learning more and more about how to keep her healthy and comfortable."

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