ORLANDO, Fla. – There is a new predator swimming around SeaWorld Orlando’s Shark Encounter, and it has park ambassadors and fans bubbling with excitement.
Just over three weeks ago, the theme park said it introduced for the first time, a new critically endangered great hammerhead shark named Dutch into the roughly 700,000-gallon aquarium.
“He’s so unique appearance-wise, you know, it’s that opportunity we have to connect with the guests and tell them just how important these apex predators are to the natural environment,” said Jim Kinsler, SeaWorld Orlando aquarium curator. “He’s getting used to his surroundings and it’s very neat to see him acclimate to the habitat. It’s also neat to see him getting along with the other animals, with the other sharks — kind of finding his little niche within the habitat.”
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Dutch was carefully selected and brought to SeaWorld Orlando after spending some time at the famous Georgia Aquarium.
“The team at the Georgia Aquarium were very kind enough to offer this animal to us. Not only did they make the animal available to us, but they also transported the animal down here to Orlando, which is a very challenging process and they did a fantastic job,” Kinsler explained.
Great hammerhead sharks are the largest species of hammerhead shark, with the most distinctly hammer-shaped head, with eyes on each side. Experts say they live in warm temperate and tropical waters around the world where they feed on things like fish, stingrays, squid and bottom dwelling crustaceans.
While at SeaWorld Orlando, Dutch is on a unique feeding schedule that has him eating once every day.
“He’s still in that sub-adult size range. He can get up to 10 to 12-feet long, almost 500 pounds. So right now, he’s still got, you know, 3, 4 or 5 feet to go in his growth before he’s a full, full grown adult,” Kinsler pointed out.
Some of the biggest threats to these sharks in the wild come from humans. According to reserarch, great hammerheads are fished both commercially and recreationally and are highly valued for their large fins in the Asian fin trade. Several countries and organizations including the U.S., Australia, and EU have adopted shark finning bans to prevent this practice.
Since being introduced at SeaWorld Orlando, fans on the park’s annual passholder Facebook page have been asking questions and spurring up excitement.
There are a number of ways guests can see Dutch while at SeaWorld Orlando. Guests can see the great hammerhead and a number of other shark species while visiting Shark Encounter, the Sharks Underwater Grill and Bar or by booking a Sharks Up-Close Tour.
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