Rare observation of shark mating behavior

October 7th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Research News

black tipped reef shark

There’s not much romance when it comes to sex among blacktip reef sharks, judging from an encounter observed by Yannis Papastamatiou, of Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology and two colleagues from Stanford University.

While scuba diving at Palmyra Atoll, they watched as the first shark in a line of males pursuing a female bit the female in the pectoral region, forced her snout into the ocean bottom and inserted one of his pair of claspers. Copulation lasted 68 seconds.

This first recorded account of mating behavior in obligate sharks—those that must keep moving to obtain sufficient oxygen—is similar to, if briefer than that recorded for non-obligate species, the marine biologists write in the April issue of Pacific Science.

Their article is entitled “An Observation of Mating in Free-Ranging Blacktip Reef Sharks, Carcbarbinus melanopterus.” Read the abstract.

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