February 28, 2013
Keepers at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium are caring for nearly a dozen tiny sharks after an unexpected baby boom.
The baby catsharks have all been born within the space of a few weeks and are being looked after in a specially constructed nursery display.
So far aquarists are looking after six newly-hatched sharks with several more close to emerging from their protective cases.
Blue Reef’s Christine Comery said: “It’s quite unusual for so many egg-cases to have hatched out in such a short period of time.
“All the babies are thriving and I can only assume that conditions here at the aquarium have been just right.
“As they grow and develop over the coming months and years a number will go into our native marine displays while others will be transferred to sister aquariums throughout the UK,” she added.
Young catsharks are about 10 centimetres long when they eventually hatch after spending up to 11 months developing inside the egg capsule.
Each capsule is usually secured to rocks or seaweed by tendrils which prevent it from being washed away by tides or currents.
Once the sharks have hatched the empty eggcases – commonly known as mermaids’ purses – are often found washed ashore on British beaches.
The catshark, or rock salmon as it is sometimes called, can reach lengths of up to a metre when fully grown and is an important species for commercial fishermen.
Found from the north east Atlantic to Senegal, the small-spotted catshark is a bottom dwelling shark that can grow up to a metre in length. They feed on crabs, shrimps and shellfish as well as small fish. Females give birth to pairs of eggs.