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Former aquarium shark enjoys life on the wild side
9/7/2012 8:40 AM
Osbourne's tracks: This map shows
Galapagos shark Osbourne's journey after
being released from the aquarium in March.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 7: Osbourne the aquarium shark seems to be thriving in the wild.
According to data transmitted from his tag, the Galapagos shark covered around 300 miles in his first three months at sea.
Experts say that all indications so far are that he has acclimaitised well to his new environment. Osbourne was removed from the Bermuda Aquarium in March for his own welfare because had developed sores on his nose from where he had come into conflict with black groupers.
A carefully planned operation involving aquarium staff and the Bermuda Shark Project (BSP) was launched to release Osbourne back into the wild seven miles off the north shore.
Neil Burnie from the BSP told the Bermuda Sun: “The satellite telemetry tag we had attached to Osbourne to monitor his progress popped to the surface a couple of months ago and started transmitting data.
“That happened a little earlier than we expected but these kind of tags are not an exact science.
“It has taken a considerable amount of time and effort from our partners in the US to collate that data and plot Osbourne’s movements.
“The findings show that he has become a successful pelagic shark and has travelled well away from the sea rock.
“It’s great news and seems to suggest that the release operation has been a success.
“We are all overjoyed at this news and the fact he has been moving around over such a large area bodes well for his future.
“After six years in captivity you are never quite sure how these things will turn out but all indications at the moment are good.”
The Bermuda Shark Project has been working with shark experts Dr Brad Wetherbee from Rhode Island University and Dr Mahmood Shivji to collate and plot all the information from Osbourne’s tag.
Dr Ian Walker, principal curator at the Aquarium, told the Bermuda Sun that based on the data he had received so far he felt ‘very positive’ about the outcome of the operation to save Osbourne.
And he would not rule out the possibility of the aquarium acquiring another shark at some point in the future.
He said: “It appears that Osbourne is making a living for himself out at sea now.
“Certainly all the data I have been privy to would indicate that this is a very positive result.
“The more data we get the better idea it will give us of how Osbourne’s first three months in the open sea went.
“We have certainly learned a great deal from this experience and it shows that we will do anything to ensure the welfare of the creatures we have at the aquarium.
“Knowing that we can conduct a successful release like this will help us in the future too.
“Osbourne was a very popular exhibit and I hope that at some time in the future we will be able to have a shark at the aquarium again to help children and understand more about these animals.”
Scientists will continue to monitor the data provided by the tag over the coming weeks in a bid to find out what depth Osbourne was when the tag popped to the surface. This will help provide more information about Osbourne’s depth at the time the tag detached.