Search

Great Yarmouth ‘virgin’ shark is pregnant

20:27 09 February 2016

Female bamboo shark 'virgin birth'. Photo: Jeremy Durkin

Female bamboo shark 'virgin birth'. Photo: Jeremy Durkin

A female shark which has had no contact with males for more than two years could be set to give birth to two babies.

The white spotted bamboo shark arrived at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in 2013 having been evacuated from the badly flooded sister centre in Hunstanton.

She has been the only member of her species at the centre in that time and has had no contact with male sharks.

But now experts at the centre have said she has produced two fertile eggs which are due to hatch in nine months time.

If the births are successful, the babies would be examples of an amazing phenomenon to conceive without a male which has only recently been identified in sharks.

Marine biologist and shark expert Darren Gook said: “They will be the first such births in the Sea Life network and we’re excited and privileged to be expecting such a miraculous event.”

The discovery of the two eggs containing valid embryos comes within days of the announcement in Germany of a second generation virgin birth involving the same bamboo shark species at a research facility in Munich.

Mr Gook said: “The process is called ‘parthenogenesis’ and has long been known to occur in domestic chickens and some reptiles, but was not recorded in sharks until 2008.

“Females somehow manage to add an extra set of chromosomes to their eggs to produce off-spring which are either clones or half-clones of themselves.

“It’s been recorded in bonnethead, blacktip and zebra sharks as well as white spotted bamboos.

“It was assumed offspring born this way were infertile and it was an evolutionary dead end, but events in Germany have now disproved that.”

Mr Gook added that one explanation of asexual reproduction is that it is natures way of ensuring the survival of the species if there is a drastic decline in numbers making it harder for males and females to locate each other.

The two eggs have been removed to the safety of a nursery tank where visitors will be able to see them and where they will be closely monitored for the full term of their development.

2 comments

  • Perhaps the most ridiculous headline ever published in a local newspaper. Divine intervention was it?

    Report this comment

    One Horse Town

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

  • Hmmm....... A pregnant "virgin"? In Gt Yarmouth? Now, where have we heard this story before?

    Report this comment

    Dee

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Other News

13:12

An application has been submitted to planners to convert a seafront nightclub into flats.

A public service is to be held next week to remember the six million Jews who perished under the Nazi regime during the Second World War.

09:09

More than 1000 people have signed a petition launched as part of the fight to save one of the UK’s only dedicated roller skating rinks.

Yesterday, 22:36

Inspectors say a troubled academy is taking positive steps one year after it was put into special measures.

Most Read

Mon, 10:05

For many a youngster, it is the ultimate dream to be a professional footballer for the team you support.

Read more
Lynn Grove Academy
Yesterday, 10:04

Up to 75 new jobs could be created at Great Yarmouth-based Seajacks after the company was awarded a major installation contract for the East Anglia One wind farm.

Read more
United Kingdom
Yesterday, 17:04

More than 100 new technicians are being recruited by Great Yarmouth-based 3sun Group to service £6m worth of new and extended offshore and onshore wind farm contracts.

Read more
United Kingdom
Mon, 11:46

Great Yarmouth police has launched a new team set up to tackle speeding in the borough.

Read more
Great Yarmouth police
Mon, 15:29

A long serving and highly respected former senior sister at the James Paget has died.

Read more

Most Commented

Yesterday, 20:25

Great Yarmouth residents are to be asked to take part in another referendum in May.

Read more
Labour Party

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 3°C

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up