World's first vegetarian shark spurns meat for celery sticks

Fish no longer have any reason to fear Florence, a six-foot tropical nurse shark living at Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre. Ever since she survived an out-of-water surgery, the picky shark has lost all interest in eating meat, opting for a vegan diet.

Three years ago, when Florence arrived at the National Sea Life Centre from Florida, her caretakers discovered that she had a fishing hook lodged deep inside her mouth. She received a groundbreaking out-of-water surgery, making her the first shark to survive such an operation. But after Florence healed up, she didn't return to her protein-rich diet. When her keepers offer her fish, she refuses to eat, instead stealing vegetables meant for her green turtle roommate. A nurse shark eating the occasional bit of algae isn't unusual, but for a shark to turn down meat entirely is unheard of.

Florence may think she's a vegetarian, but sharks can't survive on greens alone, no mater how much they hate fish. To ensure that she's getting enough protein, curator Graham Burrows and his team have taken to hiding bits of fish in leaves of lettuce and hollowed-out cucumbers. However, they have to hide them thoroughly; if Florence spots a bit of flesh, she won't eat it.

It's not clear why Florence has gone meatless. Perhaps she's just watched Finding Nemo one too many times.

Photo from National Sea Life Centre, via TreeHugger.

Shark with a preference for greens [Marketing Birmingham via TreeHugger]