[Smallspotted Catshark © Dave Peake.]

Shark Reproduction

Baby sharks are called pups. Some sharks give birth to live pups and others lay eggs, much like a chicken! Once the baby sharks hatch, these eggcases can often be found washed up on the beach - you might have heard them referred to as mermaid’s purses.

Sharks will reproduce in one of the following ways:




All sharks reproduce slowly. On average it takes between 9-12 months for a shark to give birth to just a few young. Some sharks, like the Spiny Dogfish, take even longer, giving birth after 22 months! Sharks don’t necessarily reproduce every year either and may take 1-2 years before doing so again.

Once born, young sharks are slow to grow and it can take 15-20 years before a shark is old enough to have babies of their own, although this depends on the species.

This slow reproduction rate means that sharks are very vulnerable. Overfishing and habitat destruction are killing many sharks before they are old enough to reproduce and many types of sharks are now facing extinction. We need to take urgent action to stop this before it’s too late.

How can you help?