Bristol Aquarium is inviting visitors to come up with a name for their newly-arrived baby catshark.
The tiny shark, a member of the native catshark family, is thriving in a temporary nursery tank alongside a colony of curious seahorses.
Staff at the Harbourside attraction are asking the public to name the new arrival and say they are expecting more births over the coming weeks.
Aquarist Olivia Orchart said: “It’s been absolutely fascinating both for us and the visitors to be able 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.
“We’ve decided to get the public’s help in naming the baby shark and, once all the entries are in, we’ll judge a winner and they’ll receive an annual pass to the aquarium so they can watch the shark grow and develop,” she added.
Young catsharks are about 10 centimetres long when they eventually hatch after spending up to six months developing inside the egg-case.
Once the sharks have hatched the empty egg-cases, commonly known as mermaids’ purses, are often found washed ashore on British beaches.
Found from the north east Atlantic to Senegal, the small-spotted catshark, or rock salmon as it is sometimes called, can reach lengths of up to 1metre when fully grown and is an important species for commercial fishermen.
Catsharks feed on crabs, shrimps and shellfish as well as small fish. Females give birth to pairs of eggs and can produce between 40-50 eggs each year.
HOW TO ENTER
You can email your suggested name, including your own name and contact details, to [email protected] Closing date for entries is December 19th 2014.