Sick shark recovers after MRI, surgery, year of breakthrough treatments at The Florida Aquarium

10:44 AM, Jul 8, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- After a year of breakthrough treatments, a sick shark at The Florida Aquarium has fully recovered.

Months ago, 10 Connects showed you a vet from The Florida Aquarium sticking her arm down the shark's throat. It was a last-ditch effort to figure out why the White Tip shark had stopped eating. The shark was sedated during the procedure.

Vets later ran an MRI on the shark, which biologists at the aquarium say may be the first-ever MRI performed on a live shark.

The MRI showed something lodged in the shark's throat, but a later surgery couldn't track down the foreign object.

Biologists said they decided to go ahead with those stressful procedures because the shark, named White Tip Number 3, would almost certainly die if it didn't begin making a recovery.

After a few more months of treatment with antibiotics and a liquid diet of mashed-up fish, White Tip Number 3 started showing an interest in eating whole fish.

The aquarium staff was thrilled when the creature started eating last week.

"We were literally jumping up and down. We looked like a couple of fools, but it was very exciting to see him eat," Veterinarian Genny Dumonceaux said.

"And once he figured out that he could eat and swallow, he went to town. And he hasn't stopped since."

The shark had another real meal Thursday today. It was one of the first times the animal had eaten a full-size fish in more than a year.

Biologists say they'll continue to keep White Tip Number 3 in its own pool for another week or two, letting it eat and gain weight. After that, the shark will return to his role in the larger Shark Bay display tank, surrounded by fellow sharks.

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