By trafficon
4 years ago

The Fascinating Mating Habits Of Sharks

There are over 440 different species of sharks on the planet and they each have unique style of mating habits. Some species of sharks lay eggs, while some give live birth. Some have complex mating dances, while others travel long distances to meet their mates. Some give birth to large litters, while others give birth to just a single pup.

Though there is a wide variety of mating habits among sharks, all sharks reproduce as a result of internal fertilization and some sharks are capable of asexual reproduction. With 100 million sharks killed every year, it is important we understand the mating habits of different species of sharks in order to promote effective conservation.

Little is known about the mating rituals of sharks, as they are difficult to observe. Most sharks have long gestation (pregnancy) periods, some species like Basking Sharks and Frilled sharks have a gestation period of three years. So frequency of mating varies among species. Since most sharks are solitary hunters, they travel great distances to mate. Species like Great White Sharks and Whale Sharks will travel thousands of miles to find an ideal mate. Most shark breeding grounds are found around coastlines, estuaries, and seamounts because these areas have shallow, warm waters and plentiful food sources, so they are more ideal to give shark pups a good start to life.
Shark mating begins when the female shark releases chemicals into the water to stimulate the interest of a male. Some sharks like Hammerheads and Great White Sharks have complex mating rituals that include shows of strength and possibly dancing.

All sharks tend to practice biting as a way to get the attention of the female. Female sharks tend to have bite marks across their bodies after mating, though these bites are not as ferocious as feeding bites.

Female Blue Sharks, Bull Sharks, and Tiger Sharks have all adapted to this mating ritual and have skin two to three times as thick as their male counterparts.

Some species like the Whitetip Reef Sharks will bite the fins of the prospective female. Once the male has gotten the attention of the female, the female may practice rejection behavior.

Nurse Sharks, in particular, have been observed refusing, avoiding, and blocking males they are not interested in. If a female shark does decide a male is an adequate mating partner, they will flare and cup their pelvic fins. Some species of shark like Nurse Sharks and Lemon Sharks will choose more than one mate.

Once a mate has been selected, sharks begin copulation. All sharks practice internal fertilization. Male sharks have paired reproductive organs called a claspers, and female sharks have an opening called a cloaca. Fertilization occurs when a clasper is inserted into the cloaca and sperm is injected into the female.

When mating begins, a male shark will mount a female shark, either swimming beside or underneath. Often the male will bite onto the female to hold themselves during mating. This can be a difficult process with both sharks often ending up with wounds.

Once mounted, the male inserts the clasper which hold inside the cloaca with a hook until the sperm is released. Most species of shark only use one clasper, species like Hammerhead Sharks and Requiem Sharks tend to only use the right clasper. Only the Spiny Catshark has ever been observed using both claspers. Once the sperm is injected, the sharks part ways. Usually fertilization happens immediately, though some species like the Small Spotted Catshark can hold the sperm for two years.
4 years
Flutterbydee Very interesting, Sharks are very similar to people. I didn't realize this before. Thank you for writing about it.
4 years
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trafficon Your welcome
4 years
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Lehla1707 Absolutely love sharks, hope to work or at least swim with them one day😌
4 years
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indexer There is some very interesting information here.
2 years