Shark egg hunt for divers

Aquarists have collected more than 24 shark egg-cases following an underwater egg-hunt at Bristol Aquarium.

The aquarists collected the eggs, or ‘Mermaids’ purses’, attached to rocks in the aquarium’s Bay of Rays display while they were on cleaning duty.

A number of the eggs have already hatched and tiny sharks can be seen wriggling inside the protective cases of many of the others.

“The eggs were laid by our native sharks. As the Bay of Rays is also 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,” she added.

Despite its name the dogfish is actually a member of the catshark family and is usually found in shallow coastal waters where it spends most of its time close to the seabed.

Mainly nocturnal, the sharks eat everything from small fish and crustaceans to cuttlefish and squid.

Eggs are usually laid in pair and can take anywhere between five and 11 months to hatch, depending on the temperature of the water.

When they hatch out the babies are around 10cms long and are able to feed immediately on small prey items. Once fully grown dogfish can reach more than a metre in length.

The new eggs are part of an ongoing breeding success programme for shark and rays at the Harbourside wildlife attraction. In the past six months more than 15 baby rays and a dozen baby sharks have been born.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact Sarah Moore or Liv Orchart on 0117 929 8929.