Sea Life Centres start shark amnesty

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Got any worrisome sharks lying around the house?

If so, you may soon be able to hand them in at your nearest Sea Life Centre. No questions asked!

It may sound bizarre, but the Sea Life network has already taken into care a number of tropical sharks needing new homes, from both private owners and struggling small-scale public aquariums.

"Past experience suggests there could be numerous home aquarium enthusiasts around the UK trying to look after sharks that they probably acquired as youngsters and which may now have outgrown their welcome," said Sea Life biologist Rob Hicks.

"We've had everything from various members of the carpet shark family, most no bigger than a couple of feet, to an eight foot long nurse shark that had spent years in the back of a Birmingham aquarist shop."

Hunstanton Sea Life and Marine Sanctuary, one of eight Sea Life attractions around the UK, is to convert its ocean display - currently housing North Sea creatures - into a special refuge for any sharks handed in.

"Home aquarists are generally pretty well informed these days, and don't make the mistake of tanking in potential 'tank busters' as often as they used to," said Rob.

"There are probably a lot still around, though, that have become a burden to their owners, and we'd rather they handed them in to us than disposed of them in any more drastic fashion."

The amnesty applies only to genuine sharks.and not any of the assorted freshwater fish that happen to have the word 'shark' somewhere in their name.

"And we'd prefer a phonecall before anything's handed over," said Rob, "just to ensure the nearest Sea Life centre has holding space in its quarantine facility."

Sharks collected before the end of the year will also go to Sea Life's main collection centre at Weymouth Sea Life Park before transferring to the newly adapted Hunstanton facility next spring.

"Hunstanton will be the logical home for them, as it already has a strong sanctuary element with resident otters and penguins and a busy seal rescue and rehabilitation facility."