Friday, June 15, 2007

Taiwanese Whale Shark Dies in Georgia

Taiwanese whale sharks in the news. Sadly, it is for dying...

Another whale shark died early Wednesday at the Georgia Aquarium, the second this year at the only facility outside Asia to display the huge, rare fish.

Norton's death came just a few weeks after two new whale sharks arrived at the aquarium from Taiwan. At that time, Taiwan fishery officials had said they were satisfied the aquarium provided the quality care the young whale sharks would need.

Aquarium officials said in a written statement Wednesday that Norton had stopped eating in recent months and showed erratic swimming behavior.

They said the staff had noticed a decline in Norton's swimming behavior on Tuesday and blood work confirmed a decline in his health. Early Wednesday, the whale shark stopped swimming and settled to the bottom of his tank, aquarium officials said.

Divers brought him to a stretcher, and "after every option had been exhausted to improve Norton's health, the team made the decision to humanely euthanize him," the aquarium said.

The aquarium also hosts two new whale sharks from Taiwan, named Taroko and Yushan. Long may they live!

An article giving more background on the sharks notes:

The sharks came from Hualien in Taiwan, where the sharks are a food species with an annual harvest quota. The Georgia Aquarium is one of only four aquaria in the world housing Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, the world's largest fish species.

The Georgia Aquarium worked with the Taiwanese government to obtain the fish, which are the only captive specimens outside Asia, and the world's largest collection of the species in an aquarium.

The two female Whale sharks, named Alice and Trixie, were added to the Aquarium in June 2006, after being exported from Taiwan in a specially modified UPS Boeing 747.

Hey, it's good to see we're the leading exporter of something.


Jason said...

I was surprised to see that this story was reported on the Today Show this morning. (The NYC GIO office will definitely be taking undue credit for that one!)

Truly, the whale shark is the Wang Chien-ming of the animal kingdom. Strong and intimidating when at home, but surprisingly brittle when on the road.

Anonymous said...

I think the article talked about the OTHER shark. Not the two from Taiwan

Michael Turton said...

I think another paper said all of the sharks are originally from Hualien.

Anonymous said...

The meat is crap, I don't know why they even fish them, except it's a big take in one landing. Most of it ends up as animal food. It's always sad to see one of those beautiful giants flopping dead from the deck crane. This seems like an excess of emotion over the rare ones they try to keep alive.