My name is Ibrahim Fetin and I’m from the University of Derby and I'm 21 years old. I'm doing the degree in Zoology at the moment. I'm a third year and at the moment I'm doing my IS project which is involved with the University of Derby and I'm doing it at sea life in Birmingham.
I'm looking at the stress levels of black tip reef sharks in accordance to the abundance of people and the noise levels within the enclosure. It basically involves husbandry techniques feeding of the Sharks obviously the food preparation as well but my actual project was to come into the enclosure into the tunnel and actually identify each individual shark. I would use their dorsal fin and a black tip on their dorsal fin is basically the identification point so it's basic like a fingerprint for humans so it's unique to every individual because I use the technique called Image Jay and Image Jay what it does is it has the colourations of the black tip on the dorsal fin of the shark and it just shows you every unique pattern.
Documentation techniques basically involved observational techniques so I would come in for example nine o'clock in the morning and I would identify the sharks using the black tips and I'd do a continuous observation so I'll start with five minute intervals and I'll actually record the sharks and their behaviour and just record any abnormalities. At the moment there is 14 black tip reef sharks in the enclosure which is the biggest amount of most amount in Europe and currently three are pregnant with one of them being due next month and this is really really important, not only in terms of conservation but in terms of having sharks breeding and providing offspring which then can be transferred to different enclosures which is increase the abundance of the amount obviously in the wildlife if reintroduction of techniques are used as well.
It's important to identify the shark within the enclosure just just in case if a minor mishap happens they can straight away identify the shark and get to the root of the problem. It's also good for conservation reasons as in obviously another key was identification factor they can go out in a while and actually identify the individuals and see how their behaviour changes with different independent factors so whether it's fishing because they're not they're not in a sense commercially big in a sense of fishery but they are actually caught when the fisherman - hunting father things so in that sense is really important to conserve the species as well.
My name is James Robson. I'm the curator here at the National Sea Life Centre of Birmingham. So my role here is curator as I'm looking after the whole collection so that's all the animals within the group and we've got a really nice diverse collection in this aquarium which makes it really really helpful for things like when we're doing research because we can offer a real wide range of taxa to work on. A lot of the work we do is actually behind the scenes and this is part of a behind the scenes area so we call this the quarantine area and the way this really operates is any new animals that come into the collection so if we've been sent from another sub group from from Europe or somewhere else we'll come here first we'll observe them.
We'll make sure they're feeling well we'll make sure they've got no parasites, any diseases before they go out on to display. Another operation for this area is this is where we would conduct any research work we want to do so so we want to do a feeding trial to see how they respond to different types of food. We'd much rather do it behind the scenes were a bit more controlled, it's a bit nicer for the animals and it's not on display so this is essentially where we'll do any treatments, any husbandry but we'll also do our research work.
So we've got to be of a cornucopia going on in here at the moment it's a real wide group of animals so right now we've got some animals that are going to go on to display in the next couple of weeks and it's just a mix of reef fish a small reef fish we've been rearing them on so we've got them in as a sort of juvenile larvae stage we've been rearing them on there now got to a size where we can put them on display and share them out and put them on a certain display tanks up in the coral caves.
We've also got just towards the back we've got some corals live corals and an anemone that's going to be going into our new soft coral display that's that's again up in the coral cave area and then over my shoulder behind me we've got some freshwater rays that is part of the reason we've split them up is they're breeding at the moment so once the female is pregnant the best thing to do is take the male away because what the male to do is just keep bothering the female so we take the male off show and we essentially rest the female give her a break, allows her to basically produce the young. Once she's produced the young then we can reintroduce the male if you want to breed them again and then on my left we've got a series of more tanks and that's a mixture of native species.
We've got blue spot ribbon tails which are a tropical stingray and it's part of a very important study group so we've had them for about six month now and we've got a mixture of five females to one male and that allows us to make sure that whichever pups we get from that particular female is definitely only from one male and that's really important for managing genetics so when the pups are born when the babies are born their little tiny rays we're going to chip them so we know exactly which one is which and then when we send them out into Europe we can track their life for the hopefully generations to come.
So they just here now we're just just resting them again at the moment because they're ready to pup. We've been ultrasounding the females so we know that of the females we've got four pregnant females which have produced about 12 pups so 12 juvenile stingrays.
Dr Michael Sweet:
My name is Dr Michael Sweet I'm a university lecturer at Derby. I work mainly on invertebrates but we look into all aspects of diseases and climate change and we're now branching more into the aquarium and that section as well. So we're really excited about this extra part of the collaboration with Sea Life and we've designed a whole room, quite a large room really almost the size of this to turn into aquarium research facility where we can concentrate exactly on a specific longer-term projects for our students, for undergrads, masters all the way up to PhD students.
So we have started doing a lot more behavioural studies now and that's particularly with the interest from the students they seem to be really really keen on behavioural studies and obviously of the larger animals as well so that's the things like the Otters, the Penguins and the Sharks and so we do facilitate quite a lot of that study and most of that is actually going to be done on-site here at Birmingham itself.
As far as the work we can do in the university we're going to look at the smaller scale thing so for example the development of the different sharks and rays. We can bring them in when they're in their little egg cases we can monitor development and see about hatching rates and under different scenarios as well using real-time climate change scenarios to see how that's going to affect development stages of these animals in the future.
Their benefit to Sea Life specifically is obviously because our information comes from two ways so quite a lot of the work comes directly from questions raised by Sea Life staff and particularly, James of the curator two questions which save I have pondered on for a while or they've just recently seen and they want to know an answer to you and that's where obviously we come into it and we can design projects we can look into the amount of replication needed and we can actually implement that with quite a strong well-educated labour force, ie our students.