NEWPORT — While the future of the region’s great white population may be in doubt, the region’s waters are to home to a wide variety of other sharks.
Standing in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Passage of the Deep exhibit, Senior Aquarist Brian Fodness said the broadnose sevengill shark, leopard shark and spiny dogfish housed in the exhibit all are common on the Oregon coast.
The sharks, all swimming in the same tank, will prey on each other if hungry enough. Fodness said the aquarium tries to feed them enough to prevent that from happening.
The broadnose sevengill sharks are the largest species currently exhibited at the aquarium. Fodness said staff members estimate their largest specimen, nicknamed “Miss Piggy,” to weigh about 300 pounds.
Fodness said the sevengills primarily cruise the sea floor looking for food, and will eat just about anything that gets in front of them. This includes larger fare such as seals. The sevengill sharks can be found at the bottom of many of the Pacific Northwest’s bays.
Salmon sharks, which aren’t part of the museum’s collection, also are found in the waters off the South Coast. Animal Husbandry Director Jim Burke said the sharks resemble small great whites, and can be mistaken for them.
Coos Bay represents the northern limit for the range of the leopard shark, which Fodness said typically frequent intertidal areas like estuaries. Less than four feet in length, the spotted sharks feed primarily on smaller fish species.