Frequently Asked Questions - Ask Shamu

FAQ Topic List



SeaWorld - Animals (General)

  1. What do you feed your animals?
    The whale ecotypes that are represented in our parks are primarily fish eaters. They are fed a healthy diet that includes a variety of fish with different nutritional profiles. This closely monitored diet is designed specifically to ensure each whale gets the best nutritional balance for all phases of life, from juveniles to adults.‎

    SeaWorld is committed to the sustainable sourcing of fish that we feed to the fish-eating (piscivorous) animals. Since the health of our animals and the care of our environment are two of our top priorities, we only purchase food from responsibly managed fisheries and closely review it for nutritional quality and safety.

SeaWorld - Parks & History

  1. How long has SeaWorld been around?
    SeaWorld San Diego, the first SeaWorld, opened on March 21, 1964.
  2. Does SeaWorld offer any volunteer programs?
    SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica do not offer volunteer opportunities but they do have paid internships in a limited number of departments for individuals meeting educational and experience qualifications. Information about those internships is posted on the Human Resources website as the positions become available. It is recommended that you check back frequently as these internships become available throughout the year and are highly competitive: www.seaworldjobs.com.
  3. What is the history of SeaWorld?
    In the early 1960s, four UCLA fraternity brothers, led by Milton Shedd, wanted to build an ocean-themed restaurant with an underwater view. Southern California natives, these young grew up loving the sea, and wanted to create a place that could allow others to experience the wonders of the ocean firsthand. From the beginning, they pledged their venture would be dedicated to education, entertainment, research, and conservation. What began as an entrepreneurial idea for the founding foursome evolved into a unique and innovative venture they called SeaWorld. That dream was realized with the opening of SeaWorld California on San Diego's beautiful Mission Bay.

    Here are some highlights of SeaWorld over our more than 50 year history:

    1963 To honor marine science leaders Dr. Carl and Laura Hubbs, the non-profit Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute was created by scientists and the founders of SeaWorld to "return to the sea some measure of the benefit derived from it." You can learn more about the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute by visiting their website at www.hswri.org
    1964 SeaWorld San Diego opens to the public.
    1973 SeaWorld opens a new park on December 15, 1973 in a small Florida town called Orlando. SeaWorld Orlando, along with its sister park in San Diego, launch the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation program.
    1976 SeaWorld Orlando rescues its first Florida manatee.
    1980 SeaWorld San Diego becomes the first zoological park to breed emperor penguins outside of the Antarctic.
    1985 The first killer whale to be born and thrive in the care of humans takes its first breath at SeaWorld Orlando on September 26, 1985 at 6:21 PM EST. Eight years later this whale goes on to give birth herself.
    1988 SeaWorld San Antonio opens in Texas. This park becomes the largest marine life park in the world.
    1989 Following a rare cold snap in Florida, SeaWorld Orlando rescues and rehabilitates 95 green sea turtles trapped in the Indian River Lagoon. After months of expert care, more than 50% are successfully returned to their natural habitat.
    1992 SeaWorld San Diego is the first park to conduct a flight feather transplant on an endangered brown pelican.
    1993 Through the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, SeaWorld funds a population and habitat viability analysis in the Yangtze River, the baiji river dolphin's native habitat in China. With only about 200 left, captive breeding may be the only way to save this rare species.
    1994 Gilly, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin calf found weak and dehydrated, is rescued by SeaWorld San Antonio and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
    1995 During this year alone SeaWorld rehabilitates more than 50 beached or injured sea turtles, many of which suffer sustained injuries and cannot be released. Some of these individuals now make their permanent home at SeaWorld.
    1996 To help add to much-needed baseline data on sharks, SeaWorld participates in nurse shark research in the Dry Tortugas, a critical habitat for shark pups.
    1997 To support the United Nations-declared "Year of the Reef," SeaWorld, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce support a coral reef initiative, including research, education and conservation programs.
    1998 After 14 months at SeaWorld San Diego, J.J. the gray whale is successfully released into her native California waters.
    1999 A decade after the devastating Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, SeaWorld San Diego, along with the California Department of Fish and Game and the University of California, Davis, breaks ground on the SeaWorld Oiled Wildlife Care Center.
    2000 SeaWorld and South African environmental groups struggle to save the third largest colony penguin colony in the world after a large iron-ore carrier sank off the west coast of Cape Town, South Africa on Friday, June 23. The event caused a major oil spill with severe repercussions on the wildlife in the area. Bird experts worked around the clock to de-oil and rehabilitate nearly 50% of the African Penguin species in hopes the penguins will survive.
    2003 The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund is established. The Fund has since granted more than $11 million to some 800 projects around the world.
    2004 The 500th sea turtle to be rehabilitated and released by the animal experts at SeaWorld Orlando waded safely into the waters off the coast of Cocoa Beach.
    2005 After Hurricane Katrina, SeaWorld Orlando rescues 14 injured or displaced sea lions from local devastated parks.
    2007 SeaWorld's Shamu TV: Saving a Species: The Great Penguin Rescue is honored with a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Children/Youth/Family Special".
    2008 Faced with the extreme possibility of killing California sea lions at Oregon's Bonneville Dam in order to protect threatened stocks of salmon and steelhead trout, government officials decided instead to transfer them to marine life parks including SeaWorld.
    2010 More than 300 cold-stunned, endangered sea turtles are rehabilitated after suffering the effects of record-setting low temperatures across the state—the largest rescue, rehabilitation and release event in SeaWorld Orlando's history.
    2010 When oil began to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, SeaWorld set up a special treatment area to help some 115 endangered sea turtles caught in the disaster.
    2010 SeaWorld and other dedicated experts establish the Rising Tide Conservation program to breed and raise important reef fishes. The program involves collecting fish eggs at public aquariums and raising them in specialized tanks to ensure their survival.
    2011 "SeaWorld's Happy Tails" is launched to encourage adoptions of homeless dogs and cats from local animal shelters. More than 10,000 dogs and cats from local shelters have been adopted through the program.
    2011 SeaWorld Orlando helps rescue and care for a large group of pilot whales that had beached near Key West, Florida. Two were returned to the ocean while SeaWorld provided a permanent home for two other survivors.
    2011 SeaWorld Orlando opens the new Cetacean Rehabilitation Center to help stranded or orphaned whales and dolphins. To prevent the possible spread of diseases, the 40,000-gallon main rehab pool is self-contained with its own independent water filtration system.
    2012 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Litton Entertainment launch Sea Rescue, a new TV series. Each episode showcases amazing stories of the rescue, rehabilitation and return to the wild of marine animals by a team of dedicated veterinarians and animal care experts.
    2012 SeaWorld Orlando transports four rescued pilot whales to the park for round-the-clock care. They were the only survivors of a group of 22 pilot whales that stranded on Florida's southern east coast at Avalon Park.
    2014 SeaWorld rescues its 500th manatee. No other facility in the world has rescued and rehabilitated more manatees than SeaWorld.
    2015 The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council is launched, uniting an outstanding group of young leaders from across the country to provide guidance and input to our work from a youth perspective, while directly leading programs that support our conservation work and priorities.
    2016 SeaWorld Orlando opens Manatee Rehabilitation on Manatee Appreciation Day. The new area is for park guests to see the behind-the-scenes rescue and rehabilitation work SeaWorld does to help save wild manatees.
    2016 SeaWorld Entertainment's "Sea Rescue" received a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award for "Outstanding Children's Series". Sea Rescue and The Wildlife Docs were both nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of "Outstanding Children's Series", and Sea Rescue was also nominated for "Outstanding Writing in a Children's or Pre-School Children's Series" by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Combined, the shows have been nominated five times. 
    2017 Aku the orphaned walrus calf was perhaps two weeks old when found abandoned on a gold mining dredge. Due to his young age, he was deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Aku needed a forever home and SeaWorld was chosen since the park has raised 10 orphaned walrus calves over the last 50 years.
  4. What do you do before a hurricane hits your park?
    Prior to the arrival of the hurricane, SeaWorld enacts established hurricane safety procedures and protocol for preparing the park, animals and personnel for severe weather.  These procedures include closing the park early, storing and securing all loose items and providing safe housing for the animals.  The aquatic animals are protected by the water and their areas are cleared of all loose items.  The birds and other animals in aviaries and outdoor habitats are brought indoors. The personnel who remain at SeaWorld during a hurricane have access to solid building structures and must remain indoors during the severe portions of the storm, however they are on hand to monitor the situation and begin clean up after the worst of the storm passes. The parks have backup generators and emergency equipment to bring operations back on-line immediately.  All personnel are also trained in first aid and CPR certified.  Each department has designated staff members who arrive immediately after the storm to put things back in order. 

Animal Training & Careers

  1. Can I interview a trainer?
    Our trainers are very busy plus they have limited access to computers and phones, so unfortunately they are not able to answer interview questions. However, we have a group of senior educators at the Ask Shamu service. We are quite knowledgeable on our parks and on the duties of our employees such as the trainers. If you have questions, please let us know and we can answer on behalf of the trainers if that is that is allowed by your teacher. Please limit your questions to no more than ten.
  2. How do I become a marine animal trainer?
    To become an animal trainer it is advantageous to have a Bachelor's degree in psychology, biology, zoology, or education. Psychology is actually the preferred major, not marine biology as many people assume. Background experience helpful for a position in this department would include courses or knowledge in zoology, behavioral and experimental psychology, animal behavior, public speaking, communications, education, and theater. The departmental structure of SeaWorld allows trainers to concentrate on building relationships and behavioral repertoires with their animals, whereas handlers in a smaller institution might have to spend a lot of time dealing with water quality and other important additional concerns. Other requirements to be a trainer include: SCUBA certification, CPR certification, good physical condition, good public speaking skills, and excellent swimming ability. Perhaps the best background a prospective trainer can bring to an interview is experience working with animals. Volunteering or working in vet clinics, animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, ranches, equestrian facilities and at smaller zoos and aquariums is beneficial. The more experience you have with different kinds of animals, the better.
  3. How long does it take to train an animal?
    The answer to your question varies from animal to animal as they are all unique. Humans learn at different levels, and so do the animals. Some learn behaviors quickly while others take much longer. In other words, some animals may pick up on a particular behavior faster than others, and some may never fully grasp a behavior no matter how much they are trained. You can learn more about our animals and how we train them by visiting the Animal Training infobook.
  4. What is a trainer's average day like?
    Trainers typically work eight hours a day but sometimes more if necessary.

    The components of an average day are divided into the various sessions with the animals which are: learning, relationship, exercise, play, and shows. The number and frequency of these sessions vary each day to create an enriching and stimulating environment for the animals – they never know what is going to happen next. Along with these sessions are the other duties like food preparation and distribution, assisting veterinarians with medical examinations, keeping the animal habitats clean and safe, observing the animals and documenting behavior and maintaining the health and diet records. Sometimes trainers may travel to the other parks and to meetings and conferences, but it is not a large component of the position.

Whales

  1. How do whales hold their breath?
    The sperm whale can hold its breath for 20 minutes to even an hour or more. Many other whales can hold their breath for 10 minutes to a half hour. All marine mammals have special physiological adaptations during a dive. These adaptations enable a whale to conserve oxygen while underwater.
    • Whales, like other mammals, have a slower heart rate while diving.
    • When diving, blood is shunted (moved) away from tissues tolerant of low oxygen levels toward the heart, lungs, and brain, where oxygen is needed most.
    • Certain protein molecules – hemoglobin and myoglobin – store oxygen in body tissues. Hemoglobin occurs in red blood cells. Myoglobin occurs in muscle tissue. Marine mammals have a higher blood volume (and more hemoglobin) than similarly-sized land mammals. In addition, the muscle of whales has at least twice the myoglobin concentration of the muscle of land mammals.
  2. How do whales sleep?
    Whales sleep in the water, usually at the surface. Studies suggest that, unlike in land mammals, deep sleep in whales probably happens in only one hemisphere of the brain at a time.

    Killer whales have been observed resting both day and night for short periods of time or as long as eight hours straight. While resting, killer whales may swim slowly or make a series of 3 to 7 short dives of less than a minute before making a long dive for up to three minutes.
  3. How much krill does a whale eat each day?
    Most whales do not eat krill, but the baleen whales that do can eat more than a thousand pounds of krill each day. An adult blue whale, the largest animal in the world, can eat four tons (8,000 pounds) of krill a day.
  4. Are whales related to dolphins?
    Yes, dolphins are a kind of whale, so all dolphins are whales, but not all whales are dolphins. Other kinds of whales (that are not dolphins) include baleen whales (like gray whales and humpbacks), sperm whales, porpoises, river dolphins, beluga whales and narwhals, and beaked whales. For more information on whales, view the Baleen Whales, Beluga Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin, Killer Whale, and Toothed Whales infobooks.
  5. How many teeth do whales have?
    It depends on the kind of whale. Killer whales have 40 to 56 teeth. Most beaked whale males only have a single pair of teeth and most female beaked whales have no teeth. A sperm whale only has teeth in its lower jaw, which fit into grooves in its upper jaw. Baleen whales, like gray, humpback or blue whales have no teeth - instead they have rows of long plates of baleen in their mouths that they use to strain food out of the water.
  6. How many different kinds of whales are there?
    Scientists are still discovering new species of whales. According to the Society of Marine Mammalogy's Committee on Taxonomy, there are at least 90 species of whales including 76 species of toothed whales (one of which may now be extinct) and 14 species of baleen whales.
  7. How long is a blue whale?
    The blue whale is the largest animal on earth (growing larger than even the biggest of dinosaurs were). A 100 foot blue whale is as long as three school buses. Blue whales grow to about 70 to 80 feet in the northern hemisphere (north of the equator) and 90 to 100 feet in the southern hemisphere (south of the equator). Female blue whales grow larger than males. The longest blue whale ever recorded was 110 feet.

Dolphins

  1. How do dolphins find their food?
    Dolphins can see their prey, but in murky (low visibility) conditions they use echolocation to find their food. To echolocate, dolphins produce high frequency pulses of clicks that can bounce off an object (or prey animal) and dolphins can listen for the echo (the bounced off sound waves) to gain information about the object. With echolocation, dolphins can determine size, shape, speed, distance, direction, and even some internal structure of objects in the water.
  2. What is the difference between dolphins and a porpoises?
    Dolphins and porpoises are both cetaceans (whales), but belong to different families. The main differences between the dolphin and porpoise families include tooth shape (dolphins' teeth are conical and porpoises' are spade- shaped), dorsal fin shape (most dolphins' are falcate and curve back; most porpoises are triangular), and the structure of the skull (dolphins tend to have a more elongated snout, while porpoises' snouts are blunt).
  3. How do dolphins communicate?
    Bottlenose dolphins produce whistles and sounds that resemble moans, trills, grunts, squeaks, and creaking doors. They make these sounds at any time and at considerable depths. Sounds vary in volume, wavelength, frequency, and pattern. A dolphin does not have vocal cords in its larynx. Sounds are probably produced by air movements in the nasal passage. Technological advances in bioacoustic research enable scientists to better explore the nasal region. Studies suggest that a tissue complex in the nasal region is probably the most likely site of all sound production. This complex, called the dorsal bursa, includes "phonic lips" — structures that project into the nasal passage. As air pushes through the nasal passage and past the phonic lips, the surrounding tissue vibrates, producing sound. A dolphin has two dorsal bursa/phonic lip complexes, which can operate independently and simultaneously. Bottlenose dolphins can produce both clicks and whistles at the same time.

Killer Whales/Orcas

  1. How fast can killer whales swim?
    A killer whale can reach speeds of 28 miles per hour. They usually swim much more slowly at about 6 to 8 miles per hour. Human Olympic swimmers can only swim at top speeds of 4.5 miles per hour.
  2. What do killer whales eat?
    Globally, killer whales appear to have an extremely diverse diet. Yet, individual ecotypes or populations are often extremely specialized. In many parts of the world, killer whales prey on fishes or marine mammals, but not both. Worldwide, killer whales have been observed preying on more than 140 species of animals, including many species of bony fish, sharks and rays, and 50 different species of marine mammals.

    Killer whales have also been reported to eat many other types of animals including leatherback sea turtles, dugongs, moose, and penguins and other seabirds.

    For more information, see: Killer Whale InfoBook: Diet & Eating Habits
  3. How small is a baby killer whale?
    Size estimates of calves born at SeaWorld suggest that newborn calves are about 2.6 m (8.5 ft.) long and weigh 120 to 160 kg (265-353 lb.).
  4. How big does an orca get?
    The orca is the largest member of the dolphin family Delphinidae. As with most other toothed whales, male killer whales grow larger than females.

    The largest recorded male orca was 9.8 m (32 ft.) in length and weighed 10,000 kg (22,000 lb.). The largest recorded female was 8.5 m (28 ft.) and weighed 7,500 kg (16,500 lb.). Average weights and sizes may vary by region. Data from Icelandic orcas indicate that an average-size male is about 5.8 to 6.7 m (19-22 ft.) long while females averaged 4.9 to 5.8 m (16–19 ft.) long.

    At SeaWorld, average size for adult males is 6.6 m (21.7 ft.). Two of the largest adult male killer whales at SeaWorld weigh 4,340 kg (9,570 lb.) and 5,380 kg (11,860 lb.). At SeaWorld, average size for females is 5.5 m (18 ft.) and 2,442 kg. (5,384 lb.). SeaWorld's adult female whales range in weight from 2,313 kg (5,100 lb.) to 3,719 kg (8,200 lb.).
  5. Why are orcas black and white?
    The coloration of killer whales may enhance their ability to hunt. Killer whales are counter-shaded; they are dark on their dorsal surface and white on their ventral surface. The dark side blends in with the murky ocean depths when viewed from above. The light ventral side blends in with the lighter surface of the sea when seen from below. The result is that prey have a difficult time seeing a contrast between the counter-shaded killer whale and the environment.

    In addition, killer whales have disruptive coloration, a camouflage in which the color pattern of an animal contradicts the animal's body shape. In the flickering, filtered sunlight of the sea, other animals may not recognize a killer whale as a potential threat.
  6. Why does a killer whale have a hole on top of its head?
    Killer whales and other whales have a blowhole on top of the head. This is basically like having your nose on top of your head. This helps the whale because they can’t breathe underwater, but when they come up for a breath of air, the top of their head comes out of the water first so they can take a breath right away.
  7. How many killer whales are there worldwide?
    Killer whales are found in oceans throughout world. The worldwide population of killer whales is unknown. NOAA Fisheries Service has stock assessments available for some populations of killer whales at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/
    Stock_Assessment_Program/individual_sars.html.
  8. Why do some killer whales' dorsal fins flop over?
    Scientists don't know yet what causes some killer whales to have bent or collapsed dorsal fins. Like the flukes, the dorsal fin is made of dense, fibrous connective tissue, without bones or cartilage. Dorsal fin size and shapes vary between ecotypes. The dorsal fin of a male killer whale is proportionately larger than that of a female. In adult males, the dorsal fin is tall and triangular. Reaching a height of up to 1.8 m (6 ft.) in a large adult male, it is the tallest dorsal fin of all cetaceans. In most females, the dorsal fin is slightly falcate (backward-curving) and smaller — about 0.9 to 1.2 m (3-4 ft.) tall.

    Dorsal fin irregularities in killer whales observed in ocean are rarely seen; however, some have irregular-shaped dorsal fins: they may be curved, wavy, twisted, scarred, or bent. This may occur in male or female dorsal fins. About 4.7% of wild adult male killer whales around British Columbia were observed with dorsal fin abnormalities. For the observed wild Norwegian population, the rate was 0.57%. But of the adult male killer whales that have been photo-identified in the waters around New Zealand, 23% (7 out of 30) had collapsing or bent dorsal finds.

    It is not fully understood why wild killer whale populations develop abnormal dorsal fins or why the observed killer whale males around New Zealand had such a high rate of dorsal fin abnormalities compared to other studied populations. Researcher theories include these observed abnormalities may be attributed to age, stress, and/or attacks from other killer whales. However, as killer whales at SeaWorld tend to spend more time at the surface working with their trainers, and many of the males have slumped or bent dorsal fins, it seems probable that time spent at the surface may be a contributing factor.
  9. Why are they called killer whales?
    Killer whales gained their common name because some types prey on other whales. They were once called "whale killers" by sailors who witnessed their attacks on larger cetaceans. Over time, the name was gradually switched to "killer whale".
  10. Who would win in a fight - a killer whale or great white shark?
    An encounter between a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and killer whales (Orcinus orca) was recently documented off of Southeast Farallon Island near San Francisco, California. Two killer whales were in the area feeding on a California sea lion. Perhaps the smell of fresh sea lion blood drew the shark to the area, but when one of the killer whales sighted the great white, it immediately charged the shark. The killer whale pulled the 3-4 m (10-13 ft.) shark to the surface in its mouth and both killer whales consumed portions of the great white including its enormous liver. This is certainly no indication of what may happen every time killer whales face great whites, but it does demonstrate the variety in a killer whale’s diet.

Seals, Sea Lions, & Walruses

  1. How is a sea lion different from a seal?
    Seals, sea lions and walruses all belong in the Pinniped order of marine mammals . Although many people think that a sea lion is a seal - there are many differences between seals and sea lions. Sea lions and fur seals are in the Otariiadae family while true seals are in the family Phocidae. One difference between sea lions and seals is that a sea lion has an external ear-flap on each side of its head - just like you do. A true seal, such as a harbor seal, lacks these ear-flaps and, instead, has a tiny hole on each side of its head that leads to the inner ear. Sea lions have long, winglike foreflippers that are clawless and hairless. The foreflippers of seals are short, covered with fur, and have clawlike nails. A sea lion can also rotate its hind flippers underneath its body and walk on land using all four flippers. The hind flippers of a seal remain extended behind its body and it inches forward on land like a caterpillar. In the water, sea lions swim by moving their front flippers up-and-down. Seals move their hind flippers from side-to-side like a fish in order to swim. To learn more about pinnipeds, view the California Sea Lion, Harbor Seal, and Walruses infobooks.

Penguins

  1. What kind of penguins do you have at SeaWorld?
    SeaWorld San Diego has emperor, Adélie, gentoo, macaroni, Magellanic, and Humboldt penguins. SeaWorld Orlando has king, Adélie, gentoo, chinstrap, rockhopper, and Magellanic penguins. SeaWorld San Antonio has king, gentoo, chinstrap, rockhopper, and Magellanic penguins. In addition, our sister park at Busch Gardens Tampa currently houses African penguins.
  2. Have you had successful breeding with the penguins?
    Yes, we have been extremely successful with breeding all species of penguins that we have at SeaWorld.
  3. Do penguins have knees?
    Yes! Penguins do have knees. In fact, not unlike humans, a penguin's leg has a short femur, knee, tibia and fibula. Penguin legs look short because much of the upper leg is hidden by feathers.

Sea Turtles

  1. How long does a sea turtle live?
    Scientists are still researching sea turtle longevity. Once sea turtles reach sexual maturity, they may have an estimated reproductive life of about 30 years. Given that some species reach maturity at 50 years, an 80-year lifespan is feasible.

Fishes

  1. Why aren't clownfish stung by anemones?
    Indo- Pacific reef anemones are known for their symbiotic (both benefit) relationship with clownfish. An anemone's stinging tentacles provide refuge for these fishes and their eggs. Scientists believe that the clownfish may be coated with a mucous that protects it from the anemones venom. In return, clownfish may protect the anemone from predators such as butterflyfish. Clownfish may even remove parasites and algae from their host anemones.

    Clownfish are found in the warm-waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and Great Barrier Reef of Australia. There are 28 species of true clownfish and only 10 species of anemones that the clownfish are symbiotic with.
  2. Are moray eels dangerous?
    A moray eel may look dangerous because it constantly opens and closes its mouth revealing needle-sharp teeth. This helps the eel breathe by moving oxygenated water over the eel's gills. Moray eels are generally not aggressive to people. They will only bite if they feel threatened or cornered. Moray eels and lobsters often hide in the same kind of rocky habitat. Divers hunting for lobsters are sometimes bitten by morays when they blindly reach into a rocky crevice hiding a moray.

Sharks

  1. How long do sharks live?
    No one really knows for sure. At SeaWorld we have had some of our sharks for almost 20 years, and they are probably able to live longer than this.
  2. How many teeth does a shark have?
    Some kinds of sharks have as many as 30,000 teeth throughout their life, but not all at once. Sharks have several rows of teeth. When a shark looses a tooth, it is replaced by a tooth in the row behind it. See the Sharks & Rays infobook at for more information on sharks.
  3. How do you feed sharks?
    The aquarists who care for these animals feed the sharks fish and squid. They use long tongs to avoid being accidentally bitten by the sharks.
  4. Do sharks sleep?
    It is not believed that sharks "sleep", but rather some species will become semi-conscious. Sharks have low blood pressure. The walls of the pericardium are rigid, creating suction within the pericardium to maintain the flow of blood. Even if a shark is resting on the ocean floor, they must occasionally swing their tails to create muscle contractions needed to circulate their blood.
  5. Which shark is the most dangerous?
    Only 32 species (out of about 400 species) of sharks have been identified in attacks on humans. To learn more about shark attacks visit the International Shark Attack File at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/isaf/isaf.htm.

Rays

  1. How can you avoid being stung by a stingray?
    Stingrays are not aggressive animals and will only sting if they feel threatened, as when someone accidentally steps on them. When wading in the ocean, don't take steps, and instead, shuffle your feet through the sand. The rays will sense your motion and swim away, even if you brush against them.

Sea Stars

  1. How do sea stars stick to a rock?
    Sea stars have hundreds of tiny tube feet that they use to cling to rocks and other surfaces. Each tube foot independently draws water in and out - like drawing a liquid in and out of an eyedropper. If the sea star draws water in, it creates suction so the sea star can hold onto a surface. If the sea star lets water out, then the suction releases.
  2. How do you feed the sea stars?
    The bat stars at SeaWorld eat marine algae (or seaweed) so kelp and other marine algae is placed in the large tide pool for them to feed on. Other sea stars that are carnivores are given cut up fish and squid to eat. A sea star has a translucent (clear) sac-like stomach that it can move out of its mouth, surround its food, digest the food, and then pull back inside of its body.

Crabs

  1. How do crabs breathe both underwater and out of the water?
    Most crabs have gills that they use for respiration (breathing). Many species have specialized gill chambers that help keep the gills moist. Land crabs must still live near a water source to keep their gills moist.