Sand tiger shark reproduction

Sand tiger sharks, Carcharias taurus, are popular aquarium inhabitants worldwide but rarely reproduce in captivity.  They are distinctive for their manacing smile that led to the nickname, ragged tooth shark. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers them vulnerable for extinction on a global scale and Critically Endangered for the Population off Eastern Australia and in the Southwest Atlantic.  Sand tiger sharks are aplacental viviparous and reproduce biennially, that's a long time to wait for new pups!  Embryos develop precocious dentition and  one embryo in each uterus becomes dominant, consuming its siblings (intrauterine cannibalism) and a constant stream of freshly ovulated eggs until birth.  This reduces fecundity to a maximum of 2 pups per litter and bottlenecks population recovery.  


SEZARC scientists are currently using a variety of shark species to develop techniques for collection and cryopreservation of shark sperm with the goal of collecting and banking sand tiger sperm for eventual artificial insemination at aquariums worldwide.


This is a large and highly collaborative project that benefits from the expertise of many institutions including North Carolina Aquariums, Florida Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium and Marineland, National Aquarium, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.

If you are interested in supporting SEZARC studies, please contact us.