Do sharks lay eggs? Here's how the fish gives birth and what some eggs look like. (2024)

Maybe you've seen a "mermaid's purse" while walking on the beach. Not actually an accessory for the mythical creature, these small casings are the eggs of sharks and their relatives

For around 455 million years, scientists believe sharks have been swimming the ocean's depths. Today, there areover 500 species.

Each has its own unique habitats, behaviors and characteristics. While some share similarities, others may be vastly different. This also holds true for how sharks reproduce.

Do sharks lay eggs?

Yes, and no. It depends on the species. Some sharksgive birthby laying eggs,while othersgive birth to live young, Save Our Seas Foundation reports.

Sharks that give birth to live young areviviparous like humans. Viviparous sharks are either placental or aplacental, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Placental sharks develop a placental connection to their babies, similar to a mammal'sumbilical cord. This leaves some sharks with "belly buttons" after they are born. Aplacental sharks do not have a placenta and their embryos rely on a yolk-sac or unfertilized egg capsules for nutrition, the Florida Museum of Natural History reports.

Lemon sharks,bull sharks,mako sharksandblue sharksare among those that give birth to live young.

The remainder of sharks areoviparous, meaning they lay eggs.Oviparous sharks will lay eggs and leave them to develop and grow on their own. The eggs will hatch outside of a shark's body and the mother will not take care of her offspring, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Approximately 40% of shark species lay eggs, according to the MarAlliance, a conservation non-profit. This includes wobbegongs, horn sharks and some cat sharks.

What is the biggest shark?Meet the ocean's largest fish and the top 10 biggest sharks

What do shark eggs look like?

Most shark eggs will look like a "mermaid's purse." The casings will have long tendrils in order to attach to seaweed or debris, according to the Shark Research Institute. This prevents the eggs from being washed away by currents, the UK Natural History Museum reports.

Other species, including the bullhead shark, will produce spiral-shaped eggs.

Do sharks lay eggs? Here's how the fish gives birth and what some eggs look like. (1)

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Do sharks lay eggs? Here's how the fish gives birth and what some eggs look like. (2024)


Do sharks lay eggs? Here's how the fish gives birth and what some eggs look like.? ›

It depends on the species. Some sharks give birth by laying eggs, while others give birth to live young, Save Our Seas Foundation reports. Sharks that give birth to live young are viviparous like humans. Viviparous sharks are either placental or aplacental, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Why do shark eggs look the way they do? ›

The shark eggs have spiral ridges on their outer layer which helps them grip better to rock crevices. The mother shark screws the egg into rock crevices and nook which prevents the eggs from getting washed away by waves. It also protects in from predator attacks.

How does a shark give birth? ›

Ovoviviparity: Most sharks are ovoviviparous; they combine the first two methods. They produce eggs, but instead of hatching outside the body as in oviparity, the eggs are carried within the female for the gestation period. When the egg hatches, the shark pup continues developing inside the female until it's born.

How to identify shark eggs? ›

Catshark eggcases possess curly tendrils that are used to attach the purse to seaweed. The structure of the capsule can also be used to identify some species. For example, the Thornback Ray eggcase has a narrow ridge or keel along the edge of its capsule.

What color are shark eggs? ›

Shark eggs come in several different colors (although not pastel), ranging from yellow to dark brown or black. They also come in two general shapes: The first shape is the one that most people are familiar with – rectangular with long horn-like protrusions at the four corners.

Why do shark eggs look like a drill? ›

As some of the theory goes, shark eggs cases come in spiral ridges. It helps in having a good grip among the crannies and rocky nooks where mother sharks usually lay. There's a chance that sharks' eggs could wedge into rocks so they will not move when there are waves and surge.

Why do sharks bump you? ›

Bump & Bite: Characterized by the shark circling and often “bumping” their victim prior to instigation of an attack. Unfortunately, this behaviour appears to be associated with feeding and often leads to serious, often fatal, injuries. Multiple bites are not uncommon.

What to do if you find a shark egg? ›

If a live embryo is inside, put the eggcase back in the sea or a deep rockpool and try to anchor it down. If it is a skate eggcase try and weigh down the horns, with catshark eggcases try and tie the tendrils around something so it doesn't wash ashore again. Empty eggcases are not known to have any secondary purpose.

What do shark egg cases look like? ›

Also known as mermaids' purses, egg cases come in many different shapes and colours. They range from cream and butterscotch to deep amber and black, and between four and 25 centimetres long. Some have a smooth, simple appearance. Others have ridges or keels.

How long is a shark pregnant? ›

It's Not Easy To Become A Baby Shark. Shark's gestation (pregnancy) periods are infamous for being incredibly long. Their gestation periods vary from five months to three years, though most sharks gestate for about 12 months.

Can sharks give birth without a male? ›

DUBLIN — Female sharks can fertilize their own eggs and give birth without any sperm from a male shark, according to a new study into the asexual reproduction of a hammerhead in a Nebraska zoo.

Why don't sharks have belly buttons? ›

Some sharks have belly buttons.

But they also develop a placental connection similar to a mammal's umbilical cord. After the pups are born, they're left with a scar between their pectoral fins—effectively a belly button. This is visible for up to a few months before healing completely.

What are shark eggs like? ›

Their egg cases are sometimes referred to as mermaid's purses, and occasionally as Devil's purses. The egg is a capsule that contains a developing animal and a yolk sac which the young gets its nutrition from. A capsule usually houses one embryo, but in some species there are multiple embryos per egg case.

What does a ray egg look like? ›

Eggcase horns and tendrils

If the egg has been produced by a skate or ray, you'll generally see two spikes or horns at either end of the central capsule (where the embryo is housed). These are used to anchor the purse in the soft seafloor nursery habitat of the flat sharks and rays.

What does a shark egg casing look like? ›

Egg cases without a fibrous outer layer can be striated, bumpy, or smooth and glossy. With the exception of bullhead shark eggs, egg cases are typically rectangular in shape with projections, called horns, at each corner. Depending on the species, egg cases may have one or more tendrils.

Do shark fish lay eggs? ›

Sharks exhibit a great diversity in reproductive modes.

There are oviparous (egg-laying) species and viviparous (live-bearing) species. Oviparous species lay eggs that develop and hatch outside the mother's body with no parental care after the eggs are laid.

How long does it take for a shark egg to hatch? ›

The eggs of most oviparous sharks hatch in about six to 12 months, but it's 27 months for the brown catshark, another deep-sea catshark. For live-bearing species, the gestation period ranges from nine to at least 22 months. Once born (or hatched), shark pups receive no parental care; they're on their own.

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