Love is in the water for Maxwell and Dotty

Maxwell the Zebra Shark explores his new home in the main tank at Sea Life Brighton  photo �Julia Claxton
Maxwell the Zebra Shark explores his new home in the main tank at Sea Life Brighton photo �Julia Claxton
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Maxwell the shark - named after four year old Maxwell Smith from Thakeham - seems to be in the Valentine’s Day mood.

Zebra shark Maxwell was introduced to Sea Life Brighton’s ocean display in January, and shows signs of warming to his tankmate Dotty.

Aquarium staff say Dotty helped Maxwell acclimatise to his new home, and even showing him the best feeding spots in the million litre tank.

Displays curator Carey Duckhouse said Dotty has recently reached maturity.

“If our sharks mate successfully Dotty could produce dozens of fertile eggs - it’s feasible she could produce as many as 100,” she said.

Eggs take four to six months to hatch, and only when the babies emerge, measuring between eight and 14 inches long, does it become clear how the zebra shark got its name.

“People seeing a fully grown seven-foot-long adult like Dotty or Maxwell are puzzled by the name, because they are covered in spots rather than stripes,” Carey added.

“The hatchlings have very pronounced pale vertical stripes right along their bodies, but as they grow the dark areas in between break up into spots and the stripes gradually disappear.”

Although the zebra shark is not listed as a threatened or endangered species, it is regularly caught by inshore fisheries, and as such is vulnerable to decline.

Maxwell was named after Maxwell Smith from Thakeham, who suffers from mitochondrial depletion and is confined to a wheelchair and relies on a ventilator to breathe.

He loves watching fish, and his greatest wish was to visit the Sea Life Centre.

Children’s charities Merlin’s Magic Wand and Rays of Sunshine, Sea Life made that wish come true. They also went the extra mile by having the centre’s newest addition named after him.

For more about the Sea Life Centre, visit: www.visitsealife.com/brighton