Vets remove hook from captive shark's mouth


A Nurse shark is recovering at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth after undergoing an operation to remove a fish hook lodged in its jaw.

The hook was discovered during an ultrasound scan after the1.5 metre-long shark, known as Florence, stopped feeding.

Florence is now feeding well, and is due to be transported to the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham where she will go on display in the aquariums one million-litre Ocean tank.

Element of risk

This is believed to be the first time a shark has been operated on out of water in Britain, with saltwater pumped over Florence s gills throughout the procedure.

I'd never operated on a shark before, vet Nick Masters told the Telegraph. It is extremely unusual to do so because there aren't that many big fish in public aquariums in Britain.

To be honest I didn't expect the fish to survive the surgery because I didn't think it was going to get through the anaesthetic.

There was also an element of risk involved on my part as anaesthetising a shark isn't a precise science and it could have come round. But I'm glad to say the operation went well and Florence is doing fine now.

Imported from Florida

Florence was among four Nurse sharks transported from Florida to the quarantine facilities at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth earlier this year, where observant staff noticed she had gone off her food.

She was initially treated with hormone injections to stimulate her appetite, however when the situation did not improve an ultrasound was carried out " revealing the 2.5cm/1 inch hook in her jaw.

We thought there may have been something stuck in her gut but ended up finding this hook in her mouth, Dennis Chamberlain, a shark expert at the Sea Life Centre, said.

Seeing what she had been living with we were amazed she had survived.

In aquariums sharks don't have these sorts of problems, so there is no need to operate on them. But the operation was a great success and Florence is now eating well.