A sea nettle on display at the VLM
Today marks the first official casualty due to lemon shark aggression. After I performed the routine check-in for the upper level of the building, which includes cleaning the acrylic on the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, and all seemed well, I was called to the tank by a staff member. A spadefish lay mortally wounded with four large softball-sized chunks removed from it. Apparently, the lemon sharks got hungry and decided to feed themselves. This is problematic on a few levels. Now the sharks have had success devouring a tank mate. There have been bite marks on others but until now all had survived. Also, I value all the animals here including the spadefish and never want to expose animals to uneccessary injury or death. I have raised or collected all of the spadefish (and most of the other species as well) at the VLM and feel responsible for the well-being of each. And lastly, I dive with the sharks, alone for now, and must have a renewed awareness of their activity during dives. While I certainly am not afraid of them at this point, I also do not want to experience the loss of any softball-sized chunk out of me. And as they grow the issues will only escalate.