A brown banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum) was successfully hatched at the Melbourne Aquarium in Australia using artificial means–in-vitro fertilization, a first for the aquarium. The aquarium hopes that this breakthrough will help the aquarium and others to successfully breed threatened species. The brown banded bamboo shark pup was born March 3 from semen that was collected from a shark in Mooloolaba (northeastern Australia) in September 2013. That semen was flown to Melbourne and inseminated into the female shark the same day it was collected, marking the first time a shark was born via a semen sample that was transported from one aquarium to another, Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium said. The egg was the only viable egg in the clutch and hatched after a 112 day incubation period.
The successful hatching is an element of a nine year project aimed to get a better understanding of the reproductive behaviors of sharks. The researchers will take the data that they gleaned from the hatching project and aim to apply some of that knowledge to help better manage threatened species in the wild. They hope to focus on the critically endangered grey nurse shark first (Estimates put the number of grey nurse sharks off Australia’s coasts at around 1,500 in the wild) then move to other species.
Want to Learn More?
Australia has come under fire in recent months after having approved the culling in Western Australia of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) larger than 3 meters in length. That policy, which began in January and ends in April of this year has resulted thus far in the capture of 104 sharks, 30 of which were more than 3 meters in length, according to the state government of Western Australia. If the remaining captured sharks were alive, they were tagged and released. The larger sharks were killed and dumped at sea.