Indonesian bamboo shark successfully bred in Phuket

bamboo shark / Photo: flickr.com

bamboo shark / Photo: flickr.com

Phuket Aquarium has succeeded in breeding Indonesian bamboo sharks (the brown-banded bamboo shark) and released them into the sea off Mai Ton Island in provincial seat of Thailand’s southern Andaman coastal resort island of Phuket.

This shark was the first of its kind that the centre had raised in captivity to return to the sea.

Thirty-nine Indonesian bamboo sharks, aged 3 months to 2 years, were released together with 199 clown fish. The release was to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s birthday on August 12.

The number nine is considered an auspicious number among Thais.

As an inshore bottom-dweller, Indonesian bamboo sharks have long, slender bodies, with an anal fin, five gill slits, two dorsal fins, and a mouth in front of the eyes. Its size at a mature age is around one metre. Grown bamboo sharks are brownish, while young ones have curvy white stripes across the body.

“The bamboo shark is an indicator to the sea’s fertility. If many of them are found, it means that area is rich with natural resources,” said Dr Wannakiat Thubthimsang, director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC).

Eating plankton and other small living creatures in the vicinity of their habitat, the sharks do not usually migrate. But despite its harmlessness, the sea animal is now in danger of extinction.

The number of all kinds of sharks in Thai waters has gradually declined, with only 30 shark species now being found in the sea, compared to nearly a hundred species previously, according to PMBC’s statistics.

Due to the lack of Thai laws prohibiting shark hunting or having them in possession, the bamboo shark is on the brink of extinction as its meat is in higher demand of shark consumers.

“The international conferences of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is now discussing and researching whether the bamboo shark should be listed as an endangered marine species, so they can’t be traded. But there arguments continue, as some powerful countries, who still benefit from the shark, won’t agree,” said Dr Wannakiat.

Although breeding Indonesian bamboo sharks can only be a temporary solution to avoid shark extinction, the reproduction at least helps increase their population in the natural habitat, while shark attraction can also help promote tourism in the province. (TNA)

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