Saturday, April 14, 2012

Getting a second chance.

Ever since I have been involved in Sharks and their conservation, I have had the pleasure of meeting some great guys who have devoted their time and energy to do all they can to protect these awesome creatures without thinking about self gratification. Greg Nowell is one of these special people.

Regretfully many people get involved with sharks (or any other creature) for personal gain and to get in the spotlight. Greg is the total opposite. He loves sharks as much as I do and ever since I met him some 5 years ago, he has been in the fore front of shark conservation issues here in Malta and overseas as well.

Greg Nowell is the founder and director of Sharklab Malta, and with Sharkman's World Organization, we are constantly working together on various issues. Greg and his team of Sharklab members are more focused on data collection of shark and rays info collected from local fisheries and of sightings and observations.

Recently, their work took a slightly different path and they are getting their first experience in their own private shark nursery.

Around the end of January, a local fisherman contacted Greg and told him of an unusual find of some strange egg cases at "Qalet Marku" a local rocky coastline. Greg rushed to the spot to find a total of 43 shark egg cases. On inspecting them, Greg found that most of these cases were either empty or badly damaged. Only 9 seemed to be still alive and developing.

Greg took these cases home and placed them in a sea water aquarium he immediately set up. Greg identified the egg as those of The Smallerspotted Catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula).
Smallerspotted Catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula). 
4 of the cases died over the next few days. Greg then gave 3 of the cases to fellow Sharklab member Pam Mason. Whilst Greg's eggs were in a 20 degrees heated aquarium, Pam kept hers in a cooler non heated 17 degrees. they started observing the egg cases constantly and exchanging notes. Greg's warmer sharks were noticed to be more active.

Two weeks ago, the first of Greg's sharks hatched and the second followed within a couple of days. The warmer water produced more active sharks. A few days later Pam's pups hatched.

The sharks are now actively feeding on Brine shrimp and raw white fish. The idea is that as soon as these little guys are fit enough, they will be released back into the sea and given a second chance.

Yesterday Greg's nursery had more arrivals. A local diving centre owner found a huge mass of tangled nylon rope in the sea, and on close inspection egg cases were visible.
Shark Egg Pouches entangled in ropes

Greg recovered an astonishing 89 egg cases. Out of these, 13 were found to be still alive and were immediately transferred into the aquarium. Also inside the aquarium, Greg has two huge Nursehound Egg pouches too.

13 Catshark egg cases and the 2 larger white Nursehound

More photos, videos and updates can be found here.

Hopefully these sharks will all live to get a second chance, thanks to Greg and his team of dedicated members at Sharklab Malta.

Keep up the great work guys.

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