The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is asking the public to assist in naming its new Coral Catshark pup. The pup hatched March 15 and was seen on national news after video of the hatching hit the Museum & Aquarium’s social media channels.
“This is an opportunity to give our new Animal Ambassador a name of significance that both educates the public and helps create connections for visitors and outreach program participants,” said Jennifer Drayna, Outreach Coordinator.
Three names are currently open to voting. The first, Moonga, is Hindi for coral. Coral Catsharks are found in the shallows of coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, where this language is commonly spoken. The second, Ariel, is a reference to the mermaid. Although most sharks give birth to live pups, some species, including the Coral Catshark, hatch from egg cases. These cases are tough and leather-like. They were nicknamed mermaid’s purses when found ashore by sailors. The third, Mõnõnõ, was provided by individuals from the local Marshallese community. The name means “happy” in Marshallese. The Marshall Islands are a group of low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. The Coral Catshark range extends into the shallow reefs near the islands.
The public can vote for their favorite name at rivermuseum.com/babyshark, and voting is live through noon on May 31. For those interested in viewing the shark pup, she is currently on display to visitors in the River Museum’s Conservation Lab.