How do you tell a horn shark from a leopard shark? What do round rays eat? In honor of Shark and Ray Awareness Day on July 14, Aquarist Albert introduces us to the horn sharks, leopard sharks and round rays of our Kelp Forest exhibit, and we find out lots of interesting details. For example, horn sharks lay spiral-shaped eggs in the wild, and even in our Kelp Forest at the Science Center! You can identify horn sharks by the ridges above their eyes and the spines behind their dorsal fins. Leopard sharks have—you guessed it—a beautiful pattern of spots, which make them easy to identify in the Kelp Forest exhibit.
The round rays in the exhibit are a little harder to find because they bury themselves in the sand on the bottom. They sometimes bury themselves on beaches too, so keep an eye out for them when you visit the ocean so you don't get stung! A round ray's sting hurts, but isn't fatal. Round rays hide in the sand to keep out of sight from predators, and they also eat food that they dig up from the ocean floor.
Sharks and rays are amazing and special creatures. Their removal from a habitat, whether it’s through direct overfishing or through the loss of their prey, can disrupt the food web and ultimately the ecosystem itself. So let's do what we can to help protect them!