In general, we believe that sharks are born, eat other marine creatures, attack humans, and then die, but that is not the case. Sharks go through several stages in their life cycle, with every stage having its own ups and downs.
Sharks spread around the world’s oceans, their existence goes back centuries, and it is believed that sharks are even older than trees and dinosaurs. Sharks come in over 500 different species, some lay eggs, others give birth to baby sharks.
Right from their birth, the cycle starts and ends with their death. When it comes to their age, shark lifespans vary greatly by species, though most live 20 to 30 years in the wild. However, there are some species that live longer than that. The spiny dogfish and the whale shark, for example, live over 100 years, making them two of the longest living species on Earth.
An integral part of the seas, sharks, are vital for the healthy blue oceans as they help keep the population in balance. Because sharks are top predators, they assist in maintaining the food web and provide us with healthy, diverse species. No doubt, sharks are important to us for a variety of reasons.
Understanding the shark life cycle allows us to appreciate how our own actions may endanger one of the world’s most fascinating and unique species as we see that hundreds of sharks are being killed every year.
An amazing creature to talk about, let’s get to know what the shark’s life cycle is.
Stages of shark’s life cycle
With so many different types, you get to see sharks in almost all oceans of the world. A shark’s life cycle involves four stages, starting with fertilization and moving on to the incubation and gestation stages before birth and then following with adulthood.
Once born, sharks remain in their nursery for many years before reaching sexual maturity and becoming adults. The process at some stage might differ from species to species. So, let’s get into the particulars and see what these stages include.
The first stage of the shark’s life cycle involves the fertilization process and gestation. Internal fertilization is what takes place in sharks. In contrast to many other fish, sharks mature slowly, producing fewer well-developed offspring than those that are poorly developed. Check out if sharks have to mate or not?
There are three dissimilar means in which sharks carry their young before birth.
Oviparity: Sharks species that lay eggs protected by a case protecting the developing embryo are known as oviparous sharks. Check out what breed of shark lays eggs?
Viviparity: Sharks species that give birth to live babies are known to be viviparous. Shark babies stay inside their mothers until they are ready to be born, so they are born fully developed and self-sufficient. Check out Which Sharks species give live birth?
Ovoviviparity: When sharks lay eggs, the eggs hatch while still inside the mother’s body, and once they become fully developed, they are born alive. One prime example of this case is the great white shark.
The second stage involves the birth, where the shark baby is referred to as pups. While most animals take care of their young, sharks generally do not. The young swim away in the water as soon as they are born and watch out for themselves.
A shark may have 100 babies at a time, or perhaps only two or three, depending on the type of species. However, the pups born are all almost well-developed, unlike other creatures which give birth to ill-developed babies.
The transition from pups to the young age is what defines the 3rd stage of the shark’s life cycle. As sharks grow into adults, they often stay close to where they were born, and it takes them roughly 15 years to mature and become adults. Due to slow growth, most sharks die during this time.
The adulthood stage begins as the sharks are turned fully mature and grown. At this stage, they can start reproducing, and then the cycle continues. The lifespan of sharks, as mentioned earlier, is different from species to species.
Do you know the fact that sharks have no bones? Well, there are many surprising facts about sharks that you can find here. If you want to have some information on sharks, do check out here their habitat, identification, diet, how they swim, and most importantly, also check if you can swim with sharks or not.
Sharks have a long, slow life beginning with fertilization, and most do not achieve sexual maturity until several years have passed. Because of the long gestation periods and slow reproductive process, these species are at risk of extinction. Having a better understanding of the shark’s life cycle can allow us to protect its habitats and protect the species, as, after all, sharks are crucial for healthy oceans.