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May 21, 2012

Vegetarian Nurse Shark Prefers Greens to Fish

British aquarium handlers hide bait inside lettuce, cucumbers

Meet Florence: 6-foot, single, reef dweller, carries the moniker “nurse shark” (though she possesses only tiny teeth), Pisces (just a guess), vegetarian.

Vegetarian? What would cause a nurse shark, a well-known crustacean and fish eater, to turn up its considerable nose at a free seafood dinner? Lettuce, broccoli and celery, apparently.

According to the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre in England, Florence first displayed her diet eccentricities by stealing greens from the resident sea turtle. Caretakers must now wrap baitfish in lettuce to sneak the proper nutrients into Florence’s diet.

Some online reports suggest Florence made a conscious decision to go green because she underwent an operation in 2009 to remove a fish hook lodged deep inside her mouth. However, centre officials say nurse sharks occasionally graze on algae in the wild, so they weren’t completely surprised.