Oarai for Sharks

Hi blog.

Well, much of March was was mediocre at best – by the mid-point of the month we had experienced our coldest March for some 32 years.  Rain and cold was the order of the day.  Then we had some splendid weather, and then winter’s revenge.

I’ve been busy with work functions, and the lack of wildlife was really going to keep me away from the keyboard – until an early-morning call from the in-laws.

“Do you want to go to the Oarai Aquarium?”

(I don’t care if that question was aimed at the kids.  You know what my answer is.)

Aqua World in Oarai, Ibaraki, boasts the largest number of shark species of any aquarium in Japan.  It managed to find its 15 minutes of fame a couple of years ago, thanks to one of its sand tiger sharks.

From the Metro News, May 2nd, 2014


You’re gonna need a bigger aquarium.

Staff at Aqua World in Oarai, Japan, witnessed the brutal hierarchy of the sea when a large nine-foot sand tiger shark attempted to eat a smaller white tip reef shark with whom it shares its tank.

The attacker attempted to eat his intra-species prey for 40 minutes, until giving up due to it being too chewy.

A caretaker on an early morning shift caught the star attraction predator attempting to swallow the smaller fish whole after failing to puncture the reef shark’s tough skin.

The sharks in the tank tend to ignore each other as they are fed regularly to avoid such incidents.

The sand tiger shark in question had not been eating for weeks, leaving staff worried about its lack of appetite.

The reef shark was finally rescued by staff members but was too badly mauled and later died from its wounds.


The New York Daily News had a similar article, but managed to get the species of shark wrong!


A female also expelled a still-born foetus in December last year, the first time one of the species has been confirmed pregnant in captivity in Japan.  The official web page (in Japanese only) can be found here.


The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) has several other English common names – in Australia, for example, it is usually known as the grey nurse shark.  The Japanese name is, as some of my regular followers may remember,  shirowani (白鰐).

The business end of the sand tiger shark.

Sand tiger shark patrolling its tank.

Apart from the sharks, there was plenty of other marine life on display.

Japanese spider crabs


Moon jellyfish


Green turtle with a school of Japanese pilchards in the background.


A whirlpool of Japanese pilchards. Unfortunately, some people think that the tank label should include a recipe!

Unfortunately, the dolphin and sea lion show tends to also draw crowds.  I never really feel entirely comfortable watching animals perform, especially when they are purely for entertainment purpose (the names of the species were not even mentioned).  I might be a little more forgiving if there was less emphasis on music and lights and more of “this is a bottlenose dolphin…”

Other than that, however, I enjoyed the trip.




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