Posted by: thewideblueyonder | December 8, 2008

Love hurts for not-so-shy reef sharks

Dec 7 2008 by Coreena Ford, Sunday Sun

VISITORS to the appropriately name Blue Reef Aquarium got an eyeful when they saw a pair of saucy sharks in a romantic romp.

Reef sharks

They were snapped in the unlikely setting of a tank at the attraction in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, and experts said the picture is a rarity.

For the fearsome fish are usually shy when it comes to mating and have seldom been photographed. These blacktip reef sharks certainly weren’t shy to show their passion in Blue Reef’s giant ocean display in front of a very surprised audience.

Spokeswoman Anna Etchells said: “I got a call to say that I should get down to the ocean display as fast as I could and to bring my camera. “When I arrived I found a crowd of people and our male and female blacktips literally embracing each other. “The male had hold of the female’s pectoral fin with his teeth and they were just lying there at the bottom of the display. I managed to get a couple of photos and they clearly show the male on the left holding on to the female’s fin. “We’ve done some investigating and phoned round other aquariums and no one has ever seen this happen, it’s so exciting.”

Blacktip reef sharks are unusual in the fish world in that they give birth to live young. It usually takes at least eight months for the young to develop inside the mother before they are born, but the gestation period can last as long as 16 months, and most females give birth to between two to four pups. At birth the pups are usually between 30cms and 50cms in length and fully capable of fending for themselves from the moment they enter the world.

Blue Reef displays manager Chris Horn said: “It’s obviously still very early days but we’re all keeping our fingers crossed. It is so unusual to actually witness mating behaviour that we’re all still feeling a little dazed. “To our knowledge, this is the first time our blacktips have mated and this type of behaviour usually takes place after dark, so we’re doubly lucky to have seen it.”

What has 20,000 teeth and a sixth sense?

1 Blacktip Reef sharks are viviparous, which means they give birth to live young. They are commonly found living on shallow coral reefs in Indo-Pacific waters.

2 Sharks have been on our planet for 400 million years . . . 200 million years before dinosaurs.

3 Unlike humans, they have six senses. Sharks can detect electrical signals given off by sea creatures through pores on their snouts called ampullae of Lorenzini.

4 At least 30 species of shark can be found around Britain, including the basking shark, which is the second largest shark in the world and can grow up to 10m (33ft).

5 Approximately 100 million sharks are killed every year, mostly for traditional Chinese medicine but also for sport. Many species are now listed as threatened as a result.

6 Sharks can use over 20,000 teeth in a lifetime, and never run out . . . if one is lost, another moves forward from rows of back-up teeth.

7 Sharks have the most powerful jaws on the planet

8 The most harmless sharks tend to be the largest, such as the basking shark, the whale shark and the megamouth.

9 More people are killed each year by pigs than sharks.

10 You have more chance of being killed falling out of bed than by a shark.

TOP 10 TUNES TO MAKO OUT TO . .

1 Maneater

2 Dancing in the Shark

3 Jaw the One That I Want

4 That’s a Moray

5 The Sea Bed’s Too Big Without You

6 You Don’t Send Me Flounders Anymore

7 When Whale I See You Again?

8 Some Fin Tells Me Some Fin’s Gonna Happen to Bite

9 Love at First Bite

10 Hey, Chewed

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