New shark eggs

AQUARIUM FIRST AS DIVER FINDS NEW SHARK EGG

An intrepid diver has gone on an underwater egg hunt at Bristol Aquarium and discovered a native shark species has bred successfully there for the first time.

Aquarist Liv Orchart took the plunge to collect dozens of shark egg-cases from the Harbourside attraction’s giant shipwreck display.

Among the viable eggs she discovered were nine bull huss shark eggs – the first time the species has ever bred at the aquarium.

Liv used a special net basket to collect the eggs, also known as mermaids’ purses, which are now on display in a nursery tank.

The 260,000-litre display is home to a variety of native shark and ray species including catsharks, bull huss and thornback rays along with cod, bass, pollock, lobsters and crabs.

“As the shipwreck display is home to a number of other shark and ray species we took the decision to retrieve the eggs and put them in a special nursery display,” said Bristol Aquarium’s Liv Orchart.

“Although the egg-cases are quite thick you can clearly see the unborn baby sharks wriggling inside if you hold them up to the light.

“Our team of aquarists work really hard to try and ensure conditions in our displays are as close to those in the wild as possible.

“The fact that so many eggs are being laid and that the vast majority of them appear to be fertile is an excellent indicator of the overall health of the display and its inhabitants

“I’m particularly pleased that several of the eggs are from our resident bull huss sharks as this is the first time they have bred here,” she added.

The bull huss – or nursehound – is a member of the dogfish family. It is usually found over rocky seabeds and broken ground where the mottled appearance of the fish blends into the background.

Bull huss mate in the autumn and the females lay their eggs in shallow water close to shore. When the bull huss hatch they are exact miniatures of the adults and begin feeding almost immediately.

Their diet includes mussels, oysters, crabs, lobsters, fish, squid, cuttlefish and octopus. Fully grown they can reach lengths in excess of 1.6 metres and weigh over 10kgs.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange picture/ filming opportunities please contact Sarah Moore, David Waines or Liv Orchart on 0117 929 8929.