Mama Shark Swam Solo - Oceana USA
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October 12, 2008

Mama Shark Swam Solo

BY: jeff

Scientists confirmed Friday in the Journal of Fish Biology that a pregnant shark who died last year at the Virginia Aquarium was carrying a parthenogenetic baby, meaning the pup had been created asexually. The shark, an Atlantic blacktip named Tidbit, died suddenly of shock following a routine medical check-up, and during an autopsy, her pup was discovered. Tidbit had not been kept with a male shark in 8 years and genetic testing confirmed that the pup only had Tidbit’s genetic material. Parthenogenesis in sharks has only come to public attention in recent years as sharks in zoos and aquariums began anywhere in the world; the first was a bonnethead shark born in the aquarium of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in 2001. Could it be that this phenomenon is on the rise as a result of shark finning and bycatch? One scientist is quoted, “It is possible that parthenogenesis could become more common in these sharks if population densities become so low that females have trouble finding mates.”