The aquarium team at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai have successfully bred zebra sharks from a female shark but amazingly, without a male. All the details are in the article published in the Journal of Fish Biology but overall this means that the captive female produced 15 pups from eggs laid within the aquarium over a period of four consecutive years, starting in 2007. The process is called Parthenogenesis and was confirmed through DNA tests on three pups during the first two consecutive egg cycles. Hats off to David Robinson who is also working on a whale shark tagging project as part of his PhD, and his colleague Warren Baverstock, aquarium manager. Working closely with Dr Khazanehdari of the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai, the team were able to confirm the process of parthenogenesis. The discovery, coupled with the survival of the pups, is a significant breakthrough in science, questioning existing knowledge of shark reproduction.
Common Names: Zebra shark, Leopard shark.
Latin Name: Stegostoma fasciatum, Stegostoma varium.
Identification: Body scalloped (with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin. Caudal fin almost as long as body. First and second dorsal fins low and long. Pectorals well developed. Body colouration cream, yellow, or greenish yellow, with dense black spots. Juveniles have vertical lines of black on cream. Hence common name.
Size: Maximum length 3.5m. 25cm at birth. Colouration changes at around 90cm.
Habitat: Inshore and offshore adjacent to reefs.
Abundance and distribution: Red Sea south to South Africa, west to Indonesia and Samoa and from Japan to Australia.
Behavior: Usually seen resting on the sand or rubble adjacent to reefs during the day. Hunts in same area nocturnally. Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on bony fishes.
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