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Zach at the Zoo: Meet the Sandbar Shark

Posted at 6:39 AM, Jul 04, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In this week's edition of Zach at the Zoo, we are better introduced to Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium's sandbar sharks. Some of these sharks have called Omaha home for 30 years.

  • VIDEO: Zach takes us above the Shark Tunnel during feeding time.
  • The sandbar shark is one of the largest coastal sharks, growing up to eight feet loing
  • “They’re so charismatic. People think they’re just big, eating machines but they’re honestly such softies."


It’s feeding time at the top of the Shark Tunnel.

Well, sort of.

“So, that was a definitive no, I don’t want that,” Shark Team Lead Morgan Mcavoy said, as the shark swam by its food.

“Sometimes they can be kind of picky. Trout isn’t one of their favorites, but we make sure they get a good variety of food.”

Not quite what I originally expected from sharks.

“They’re so charismatic,” Mcavoy said. “People think they’re just big, eating machines but they’re honestly such softies. They’re so sweet.”

We’re talking specifically about the sandbar shark – also known as the brown shark.

“They eat twice a week, and we offer them 100 pounds of food each time.”

Some of these sharks have called the Scott Aquarium home for nearly 30 years.

But they also have five pups who have been here for just a couple.

“I really like Swim Shady — he’s my favorite,” Mcavoy shared. “He’s pretty spunky, he’s got a lot of personality.”

These sharks are constantly on the move – literally.

“They’re an Atlantic pelagic species which means they have to constantly keep swimming to breathe,” Mcavoy said. “They do sleep but they just keep moving. They kind of go on an autopilot and they just keep swimming.”

Nothing gets by them in the water.

“They have the Ampullae of Lorenzini — they have a sixth sense,” Mcavoy explained. “So, it’s how they pick up on fish from miles and miles away. It’s an electrical sensing system.”

“They can feel the fish moving, they can feel us in the water. It’s really sensitive on their face and on their lateral line — it’s where these organs are located.”

You can see Swim Shady, and the rest of the crew, inside the Scott Aquarium.