Two Oceans Aquarium’s shark capture goes swimmingly

The Two Oceans Aquarium successfully removed the last of its ragged-tooth sharks from the predator exhibit.

The last of the Two Oceans Aquarium's ragged-tooth sharks were removed from the I&J Predator Exhibit on Tuesday 31 March 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The last two ragged-tooth sharks were successfully removed from the Two Oceans Aquarium on Tuesday ahead of being released back into the wild.

It comes as the aquarium prepares to close down the I&J Predator Exhibit for major renovations and unveil a long-awaited new exhibit in June.

Two of the four sharks were released near Mossel Bay last week, and the last two are scheduled to be released near East London on Wednesday evening.

Adult females Nasa and Reef have been living in captivity since 2005 and have spent the majority of the last decade at the aquarium in Cape Town.

Divers got into the water shortly before 9am to usher each animal into a large PVC cone with the aid of wooden sticks.

From there they were placed in a holding tank, which enabled them to be transferred to a 6,000 litre tank on the back of a truck, fitted with life support systems to maintain water quality throughout the journey.

WATCH: Sharks are removed from the aquarium

Although they've become accustomed to being fed, aquarium staff say the animals will have no problem adjusting back to fending for themselves.

"We do feed them but - like all predators - they'll eat when they're hungry… Just because we were feeding them, it doesn't mean they'll lose the instinct to hunt," the aquarium's Renee Leeuwner explains.

Leeuwner adds that past data has shown that sharks released back into the ocean soon joined their wild counterparts on their normal migratory routes.

Although it's likely to be the last the aquarium sees of the sharks when they swim off into the blue, it may not be the last they hear from them.

Fitted with transmitters, it's hoped the animals will further research by informing researchers about their movements.

"These sharks are tagged with VEMCO internal acoustic transmitters implanted in their body cavities. There are listening stations all along the east coast of South Africa with scientists that go out to those listening stations and download the data. So basically what's going to happen is if one of the sharks swim in the vicinity of a listening station, that VEMCO tag's number will be picked up and we will know that our shark has swum past that specific listening station."