A 5-foot-shark was stressed after its long ride from California.
By MAYSOON ABDELRASUL
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES — Sales aren’t the only thing swimming in the Eastwood Mall.
Sharks, eels, stingrays and other tropical fish are adjusting to their new homes inside the mall’s aquarium or E-Quarium (E stands for Eastwood) located in the center of the mall.
Shoppers and onlookers watched as the fish were taken out of the truck at noon Wednesday and placed inside a 4,500-gallon tank.
When completely stocked, the three-tank system designed by Fred Beshara, an independent aquarium consultant, will hold about 125 to 130 species of fish and other aquatic animals.
The sharks came from California and were in a tractor-trailer for 40 hours before arriving in Niles. Dynasty Marine, a company based out of Florida, delivered them.
Within 20 minutes of the truck’s arriving, it slowly backed up toward the center of the mall by the food court entrance.
Five men were involved in removing the fish from the truck, placing them into a bin, taking them inside the mall and placing them inside the tank.
There are seven sharks in the tank. The largest one is a 5-foot white tip reef shark. Other sharks are marble cat, black tip reef and leopard.
The white tip was placed in a long black bag and placed over water as it made its way through the mall to its new home. Beshara and others handling the fish were a little concerned because the shark was moving around quite a bit. But they were able to safely place it into the aquarium.
“I thought we would have a hard time with the 5-footer, but it went easier than I thought it would,” Beshara said.
The sharks can be aggressive if they are not taken care of properly.
“The next 24 to 48 hours are very critical in the predator tank because there’s no sure thing saying they are going to adjust with each other,” Beshara said.
The tips of the sharks’ noses are banged up because they were in the truck so long. Beshara said they should heal in a couple of weeks.
The predator tank will be covered for at least two days because the sharks are stressed from the trip, said Jeff McBride from Saltwater Reef Dreams, a local company that provides maintenance of marine life in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and western Pennsylvania. The fish need to get comfortable in their new homes, he added.
McBride said he’s in charge of stocking, maintaining and feeding the fish. After all the species were placed in the aquarium, McBride was admiring the white tip shark. “Now that’s a beautiful animal,” he said.
Tiffany Bell, mall marketing director, said the aquarium comes at a perfect time because a new retail store called Captain McFinn will be opening in the mall. The white tip shark is the store’s mascot.
The mall is pushing for the aquarium to be attractive as well as educational, Bell said. For an annual fee yet to be determined, kids can be part of field trips and monthly activities, she said. Tenecor, an industry leader out of Phoenix, built the tanks.