Having lived in the world’s oceans for centuries, it is always fascinating to see how sharks reproduce and give birth to their babies. The mechanism, however, varies between each species. While some give live birth, there are a few species that lay eggs.
When it comes to sharks, you will find both varieties. The two types are categorized as oviparous and viviparous. See below what these terms are defined.
Oviparous: We classify oviparous animals as those that are capable of producing young by laying eggs and hatching them after the mother has laid them.
Viviparous: A viviparous animal is one that gives birth to live young that has been established inside the parent.
With over 500 species, you will find sharks in both categories. What do you think sharks have to mate to produce babies?
While you can find here the breed of sharks that lays eggs, here in this article, we are going to talk about which shark species give live birth. Before we move forward, do you know there are shark species that lay spiral eggs?
Do sharks give live birth?
While the question is pointless, people have this mind, and therefore we are mentioning it here, giving the straightaway answer. Yes, sharks do give live birth. In fact, most sharks out of all species give live birth, and only a few are known to lay eggs.
In viviparous sharks, embryos are carried throughout the entire gestation period, and pups are born alive, similar to the way mammals give birth. Don’t be confused and read out if sharks are mammals? The embryos receive their nutrition from the yolk sac placenta attached to the mother.
Sharks, such as blue and hammerhead sharks, practice viviparity as the most advanced method of reproduction.
We will be clear about it as we reach the end. Let’s now get into the details and see what sharks give live birth.
What shark species give live birth?
As mentioned earlier, most shark types give birth to live pups, and they are known as the viviparous species. Since there can be hundreds of species giving live birth, here we are going to talk about some of the well-known species that are categorized as viviparous.
Known as aggressive hunters, hammerhead sharks are famous for their unique head structure that looks like a hammer.
Hammerhead sharks reproduce viviparously, with females bearing live offspring. Fertilization occurs internally, with males transferring sperm to females through one of the two intermittent organs known as claspers.
Usually found swimming along the bottom of the ocean, they hunt stingrays but also eat crabs, fish, squid, and octopuses.
Inhabiting deep waters, blue sharks also lie in the category of viviparous species. Blue sharks have a gestation period between nine months and twelve months, where females reach maturity at the age of five or six and males at four or five.
Blue sharks prey primarily on squids, but they also eat cuttlefish, pelagic octopuses, lobster, shrimp, and crab. Do check out here the five things sharks eat.
As far as the behavior is concerned, blue sharks are not aggressive in nature, but they do have the potential to harm you in case triggered.
As ovoviviparous sharks, shortfin mako gives birth to live young from the yolk sac. During the gestation period, which lasts about 15-18 months, unfertilized eggs are consumed by developing embryos.
The shortfin mako is one of the sharks that has one of the highest brain-to-body ratios among all species of sharks. Do find out what makes the shark’s brain so unique.
Be careful of mako sharks since they are aggressive and strong.
Bull sharks are viviparous, born alive, and can swim freely after they have gestated for 12 months. They can produce one to thirteen live, small pups at a time. They prefer shallow coastal waters, which makes them vulnerable to human contact. Though bull sharks are considered aggressive, the attacks are extremely rare. But, to be protected, you must keep a safe distance.
A vulnerable species, lemon sharks, are not violent, but they can turn out to be one when incited. The reproductive mechanism of lemon sharks is a bit different from other species. During the breeding season, they mate at special nesting grounds where the female gives birth to her offspring in shallow wetlands. The pups stay there for several years before they are ready to deep dive into the deeper waters.
Putting an end to the question of whether sharks are able to give live birth or not, the article mentions some of the popular shark species that give live birth. Aside from the sharks mentioned above, the Whitetip reef shark, the silvertip shark, and salmon sharks are among many others that lie in the category of viviparous animals, meaning giving birth to live young.