Baby sharks born at Newquay aquarium
8:00am Sunday 16th September 2012 in News
Delighted staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay are celebrating after the birth of half a dozen baby sharks.
The tiny sharks, all members of the native catshark family, are thriving in a special nursery tank at the aquarium - safely away from the attentions of their larger cousins.
Staff at the award-winning wildlife attraction say that they are expecting even more births over the coming weeks.
Blue Reef's Christine Comery said: “It's been absolutely fascinating to watch the tiny shark embryos developing inside their egg-cases. “As they get closer to hatching you can clearly see them wriggling about and trying to find a way out.
“Once they do finally emerge they are pretty much fully formed miniature versions of their parents. The only real difference is that they do not have to be fed quite as much as they get all their nourishment from their attached yolk sacs.”
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.