The three sand tiger sharks, one nurse shark and several rays were moved to the Aquarium’s new Animal Care Center in Quincy last week not because the parasite will harm them but because the treatment can.
The parasite, called cryptocaryon irritans, affects bony fish but not sharks and rays. But the most effective treatment – copper sulfate – can harm them. So fish and other marine species will remain in the tank during the roughly month-long treatment but the sharks and rays cannot.
The parasite can be present in wild fish collected by the Aquarium. While the fish are all quarantined and treated, the tiny parasite can still gain a toehold in tanks, says Billy Spitzer, Aquarium vice president of planning, programs and exhibits. The Aquarium has had the problem in the past, including in the giant tank, but has gone several years without an outbreak, he said.
“We have a lot of experience with this, but we are monitoring it very closely,’’ said Spitzer.
During past outbreaks, the animals had to be moved to Connecticut but the new Quincy facility allows them to stay closer to home.
Photo caption: A shark in the giant ocean tank. (courtesy of the New England Aquarium)
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