A quartet of smooth hound sharks have been given a new home at Bristol Aquarium.
The metre-long sharks, which are native to British waters, were donated by their sister aquarium in Portsmouth and will go into the Harbourside attraction’s giant 300,000-litre shipwreck display.
The two starry and two common smooth hounds will join three other species of native sharks, rays, wrasse and shoaling cod in the open top display.
Bristol Aquarium curator, Dan de Castro, said: “Unlike many other species of native sharks, the smooth hounds have the classic ‘shark silhouette’ and live in the open water rather than spending their time feeding on the bottom.
“They’re graceful fish with incredibly streamlined bodies which allow them to move quickly through the water in search of prey and to escape would-be predators,” he added.
Smooth hounds are found in coastal waters all around the British Isles, in the Mediterranean and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope. As their name suggests they have a relatively smooth skin compared to other shark species which is covered with white star-like spots.
They normally spend their time in water up to 150 metres deep but come inshore to breed.
In the wild they feed on a diet of crustaceans using their flat, slab-like teeth to grind up the shells of their prey. Fully grown can reach lengths in excess of one-and-a-half metres.
The litter size varies with some individuals giving birth to up to 30 young. Once born the youngsters remain in the shallow waters while the parents return to the open ocean.
Once abundant in the Mediterranean Sea and Southern European waters, years of overfishing have caused their disappearance from much of their former range and the species is now considered to be Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List which means it faces a high risk of extinction in the willd.
Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews and picture opportunities please contact Tina Patel or David Waines on 0117 934 0944.