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Science at Shedd

Sagu, a Pacific white-sided dolphin born at Shedd to mother Piquet, swims and bonds with his mother in Secluded Bay shortly after his birth.

A steady stream of data has been collected on Pacific white-sided dolphin calves born at Shedd. With fewer than 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins in North American aquariums and zoos, the animals in Shedd’s care offer a rare window into the biology and behavior of this little-studied species.

Coral is grown from "plugs", small plastic vials containing the sediment the coral needs to anchor itself, then transplanted into the wild.

Tiny juvenile elkhorn corals, Acropora palmata, grow on a ceramic tile like the one held at left. Shedd is part of an international team of aquariums and zoos working with Project SECORE International to develop and refine methods of raising coral larvae, with the long-range goal of spawning endangered corals in-house. Shedd is also part of an elkhorn reintroduction program in the Caribbean.

A juvenile tiger stingray, its body a flat disk with its eyes protruding from the top and a long, whip-like tail opposite.

This pup is one of nearly a dozen tiger rays born at Shedd, which was the first North American zoological institution to breed this freshwater fish. Shedd has successful breeding programs for two other species, bigtooth river rays and white-blotched river rays. Our expert in Amazon animals is program leader for freshwater rays for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Two beluga whales peer at the viewer from just beneath the surface of the water.

Hearing and acoustics research increased the scientific community’s understanding of how belugas hear and how underwater noise from ships and marine mining might impact them.

Lab manager Frank Olario, wearing safety googles, rubber gloves and a lab coat, lifts a petri dish out of a large centrifuge in Shedd's microbiome lab.

Shedd is home to chemistry, pathology, molecular biology and DNA sequencing laboratories. Here, scientists monitor all aspects of animal habitats, even tiny microbes that are too small to see.