‘Big leap’ as Australia hatches first IVF shark

Australia has successfully hatched its first shark born via artificial insemination with hopes that the development can ultimately be used to help breed threatened species, an aquarium said.

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium said the brown banded bamboo shark pup was born on March 3, ending a process which began in September when aquarists collected a semen sample from a shark in Mooloolaba in northeastern Australia.

This was flown to the southern city of Melbourne and inseminated into the mother the same day — making the pup the first shark to be born globally via a live semen sample transported from one facility to another, Sea Life said.

Melbourne Aquarium vet Rob Jones said the birth of the shark — which is expected to grow from its initial length of 16cm (6.3in) to an adult size of 1.2 to 1.5m — was a milestone. “This is a big leap,” he said.

The hatching is part of a nine-year project into understanding the reproductive behaviours of sharks, animals which are common in Australia but are little understood.

The team hope their research will help with plans to manage threatened species in the wild, in particular the critically endangered grey nurse shark.

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