Sharks are interesting creatures and live quiet lives. Scientists still do not know a lot about sharks, especially Great White sharks.
Some shark species are solitary and live their lives alone, while others choose to socialize, like the lemon shark.
But do sharks mate for life?
No, sharks do not mate for life. Sharks actually have an aggressive way of mating and male and female sharks typically stay away from each other when it is not the mating period. Female sharks will mate every 2 years, while male sharks mate every other year.
When Do Sharks Mate?
All species of sharks have different mating times across the world. For example, tiger sharks mate in the waters near Hawaii during January every three years.
This looks very different from Great White shark females that mate in the early spring months throughout the world.
There is still not a lot of information recorded on sharks because of how deeply underwater they swim.
Why Is Shark Mating Aggressive?
Two sharks mating is not peaceful.
Female sharks have tougher skin than male sharks because of their reproductive activities. Male sharks need to get into a specific position to mate with female sharks.
During the mating ritual, male sharks thrash, bite and scar female sharks to get into a position. This is the reason female sharks avoid male sharks for months after the mating ritual.
It is common to see female sharks with scars on their pectoral fins.
How Many Babies Can A Shark Have?
First, female sharks are unique because depending on the species, they either produce eggs or have a live birth.
Some sharks combine the two and incubate the eggs until they hatch. Typically, a female shark can carry 2 to 14 pups, but the number increases if they can lay eggs.
About 40% of all sharks in the world lay eggs, which is a process called oviparity. The eggs are produced in an egg sack that protects them from outside danger.
Some species of sharks keep the egg sacks inside of their bodies until the eggs mature. The most common sharks that produce eggs include:
- Cat sharks
- Bamboo sharks
- Whale sharks
- Carpet sharks
Not all species of shark give birth to the same number. For example, massive whale sharks can birth up to 300 live sharks in Taiwan. Tiger sharks can only deliver up to two pups for each pregnancy.
How Long Is The Gestation Period?
Pregnancy looks different in all species of sharks, but the average shark takes about 11-12 months to give birth.
However, sharks like the frilled shark can carry pups for three years. Baby sharks in the womb are dependent on their mothers, but also hunt for food.
For example, in some shark species, a placenta is formed during pregnancy.
Other sharks produce unfertilized eggs, which the baby sharks eat. Sometimes, they even eat their siblings, performing cannibalism for nutrition.
Baby sand sharks are especially known for eating their siblings during the gestation period. Sometimes only one to two pups survive. It is a true survival of the fittest.
Typically, the first baby shark to hatch will grow the largest and consume dozens of its siblings.
What Happens When A Baby Shark Is Born?
Male sharks do not partake in parenting, instead, male and female sharks avoid each other. Sharks, unlike other animals, are born with hunting and swimming instincts.
Typically, a mother shark will deliver newborns to shark nurseries along the coasts of beaches.
No one takes care of shark babies, instead, the sharks protect themselves and feed on smaller prey until they get big enough to venture from the nursery. They are usually 4 years old when they leave.
Baby sharks are vulnerable to larger predators like large birds, and other adult sharks like the Great White.
Not a lot is known about baby sharks. Like humans and other mammals, they have slower maturity and grow over time.
A male shark is fully mature and ready to mate when it is 8-10 years old.
However, this varies on species, as Great White sharks are late bloomers and don’t reach sexual maturity until they are at least 26 years old.
Overall, sharks do not mate for like. They are not monogamous animals and both female and male sharks do not care for the baby after they are born.
Some species produce eggs into a pouch and the sharks hatch on their own, if they survive.
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