We call baby sharks pups. Some sharks give birth to live pups and others lay eggs, much like a chicken!

Sharks will use one of 3 methods to reproduce:


OVIPARITY:

Some sharks, and all true skates, reproduce by laying eggs on the seabed. These have tough and leathery casings that protect the embryo as it develops inside. After several months a pup will emerge. You can often find empty eggcases washed up on the beach.

You can tell by the size and shape of an egg which type of shark or skate laid it. For example, Port Jackson Sharks lay wonderful spiral-shaped eggs! Perfect for wedging between rocks.

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OVOVIVPARITY:

Instead of laying her eggs, the mother carries them inside her body. Here they’re protected and can develop in safety. When the pup hatches they’ll eat other eggs and even their siblings. They’re then born as live young.


VIVIPARITY:

Like mammals, the baby shark develops inside their mother’s womb. Here they receive nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord. After several months they're born as live young and immediately swim away to fend for themselves.

Larger sharks such as, Blue Sharks, Bull Sharks and hammerheads tend to reproduce in this way.


WHY ARE SHARKS UNDER THREAT?

Sharks reproduce slowly and don’t give birth to lots of pups. This makes them vulnerable to human threats.

  • Slow Growing - as an extreme example the Greenland Shark can live up to 400 years and only start having pups of their own when they reach 150! Many are killed before they’ve had a chance to reproduce.

  • Long Pregnancies - averaging between 9-12 months. But for the Greeneye Dogfish this lasts 31 months!

  • Produce Few Young - varying from 2 pups for the Bigeye Thresher to 135 for the Blue Shark. Compare this to bony-fish who release millions of eggs.

  • May Not Reproduce Every Year - some species have a resting phase of 1-2 years.

Sadly, sharks are now one of the most threatened animals on our planet!

We need to take action to help them before it’s too late.

Find Out How Can You Help