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A quick-thinking aquarist at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium has helped save the life of an unborn shark.
Fiona Snowdon had been monitoring the shark’s egg-case when she noticed the tiny baby inside was in difficulty.
The nine-centimetre-long shark – a member of the native catshark family – had become stuck and was unable to hatch out.
“I had been monitoring the egg-case for several hours as I realised it was extremely close to the time when it would hatch out,” she said. “Within the egg-case the shark is attached to a yolk sac which it feeds off before birth and also relies on once it is born. This particular shark had used up all its yolk and was still not able to break out of its protective casing. In the end I realised that, if I didn’t do anything, the shark would die so I took the decision to give it a helping hand into the world,” she added.
Fiona delicately made an incision into the egg-case and gently manoeuvred the tiny shark through the gap and out into the world.
Despite its ordeal the dogfish appears to be in good condition and has now gone on display in the aquarium’s nursery area.
“It seems like the shark’s none the worse for its experience and it’s great to see it happily swimming around the display,” said Fiona It’s highly uncommon for babies to be unable to break through the egg-case; perhaps this particular individual had an unusually thick egg which prevented it from hatching,” she added.
Found from the north east Atlantic to Senegal, the small-spotted catshark is a bottom dwelling shark that can grow up to a metre in length. They feed on crabs, shrimps and shellfish as well as small fish. Females give birth to pairs of eggs.