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Thursday, 23 April, 1998, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Sharks critical after cold haul
Experts are working round the clock to save the six surviving sharks
Marine biologists in Plymouth are battling to save the lives of six sharks suffering from hypothermia after the plane carrying them from America was caught in a snowstorm.

Tank temperature fell below the critical level
The sharks were being taken from Florida to a new aquarium in Plymouth where they were to have been major attractions.

The temperature in the tanks being used to transport the sharks dropped below the critical level when the flight was delayed in Amsterdam by a snowstorm. Four sharks died as a result and those that survived are seriously ill.

"It was a tremendous setback for the whole team when this happened," said Chief Executive of the National Marine Aquarium, Mike Leece.

"We are trying to look at it in a positive way and see what can we do to get the replacement animals here in a good healthy state before we open on May 6."

It could be another two weeks before the animals are fit
Aquarium staff are working round the clock to save the animals with regular feeding and vitamins. However, it could be another two weeks before they are declared fit.

The operation cost 70,000 but environmentalists say the animals are paying the highest price.

"There is no justification that we can see at all for bringing sharks to Plymouth," said Dave Spratt from the environmental group Zoocheck.

"There is no educational value. There is no conservation value. The animal welfare is obviously compromised and I would like someone to explain to me exactly why they are doing this."

The RSPCA has launched an inquiry into the deaths of the sharks and a post-mortem is being carried out.

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