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Tucuxi

Another GA Aquarium Whale Shark Dies

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ATLANTA - Another whale shark died early Wednesday at the Georgia Aquarium, the second this year at the only facility outside Asia to display the huge, rare fish.

Norton's death came just a few weeks after two new whale sharks arrived at the aquarium from Taiwan. At that time, Taiwan fishery officials had said they were satisfied the aquarium provided the quality care the young whale sharks would need.

Aquarium officials said in a written statement Wednesday that Norton had stopped eating in recent months and showed erratic swimming behavior.

They said the staff had noticed a decline in Norton's swimming behavior on Tuesday and blood work confirmed a decline in his health. Early Wednesday, the whale shark stopped swimming and settled to the bottom of his tank, aquarium officials said.

Divers brought him to a stretcher, and "after every option had been exhausted to improve Norton's health, the team made the decision to humanely euthanize him," the aquarium said.

In January, Ralph, another whale shark that was among the aquarium's first stars after it opened in 2005, also died there.

Ralph had stomach problems that led to an inflammation of a membrane in his abdomen, according to aquarium officials. The aquarium has theorized that a chemical it no longer uses in the tank to treat parasites might have contributed to his loss of appetite and health problems.

The two new whale sharks, Yushan and Taroko, join Alice and Trixie in the aquarium's 6-million-gallon tank. The sharks can grow up to 40 feet long.

The first shark to die, Ralph, also died in part because of the tube feeding they were doing. A mistake was made during feeding, and his stomach was punctured.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070613/ap_on_...hale_shark_dies

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