Days OutEducation

Love is in the air at Sea Life Brighton

Love is in the air – or more specifically in the water – at Sea Life Brighton, as the aquarium’s male zebra shark Maxwell has started to make his move on Dotty, his female counterpart.

Maxwell was introduced to the Ocean Display at Sea Life Brighton in January, but has already shown signs of ‘warming to Dotty’ – just in time for Valentine’s Day! 

Maxwell the Shark Photo credit: Julia Claxton

Maxwell the Shark
Photo credit: Julia Claxton

The pair seem to have hit it off, with Dotty helping Maxwell to acclimatise to his new home and even showing him the best feeding spots in the million litre Ocean Display. 

The aquarium is hopeful that the budding love story between its two zebra sharks will soon lead to the pitter patter of tiny fins. 

Displays Curator Carey Duckhouse explains: “Dotty has recently begun producing eggs, which is a sure sign that she has reached sexual maturity. If our sharks mate successfully Dotty could produce dozens of fertile eggs – it’s feasible she could produce as many as 100!” 

Eggs take four to six months to hatch, and only when the babies emerge, measuring between eight and 14 inches long, does it become clear how the zebra shark got its name.

“People seeing a fully grown seven-foot-long adult like Dotty or Maxwell are puzzled by the name, because they are covered in spots rather than stripes,” continues Carey.

“The hatchlings have very pronounced pale vertical stripes right along their bodies, but as they grow the dark areas in between break up into spots and the stripes gradually disappear.”

Although the zebra shark is not listed as a threatened or endangered species, it is regularly taken in by inshore fisheries, and as such is vulnerable to decline.

As with all our breeding programmes we have two objectives,” said Carey.

“One is to be able to supply more sharks for educational displays across our estate and the other is to gain knowledge which could be of benefit to any future reintroduction programme, should that become necessary to bolster the wild population.”

Here’s hoping Maxwell and Dotty’s relationship will continue to blossom!

Sea Life Brighton is open from 10am every day apart from Christmas Day. For current closing times or further information, please visit www.visitsealife.com/brighton.

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