Search

Great Yarmouth ‘virgin’ shark is pregnant

PUBLISHED: 20:27 09 February 2016 | UPDATED: 08:34 10 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

27 minutes ago

More than £500,000 was spent on sending patients under the care of the region’s mental health trust to other facilities in the last month as bosses admit “still too many” patients were being sent out of the area for treatment.

17:06

Plans to rejuvenate the area around Great Yarmouth’s railway station have been given a seal of approval.

18:00

A north Norfolk GP practice has been ranked among the best in the country after being rated outstanding by the independent regulator of health and social care.

Usually journalists are the ones asking the questions, however the shoe was on the other foot at a village school.

Most Read

Mon, 17:23

A man in his 20s who was hit by a car in Bradwell died just two hours later, it has emerged.

Read more
James Paget University Hospital
Yesterday, 12:17

The family of the 22-year-old man who died in a road accident in Bradwell on Friday have paid tribute to a “comical little lad”.

Read more
James Paget University Hospital

There were dramatic scenes after a fire that destroyed three sheds caused a number of gas canisters to explode in Great Yarmouth.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:04

A 20-year-old man from Great Yarmouth has been remanded in custody this morning after being charged with the rape of a girl under 16 in a Lowestoft park, sexual grooming her and breaching a sexual harm prevention order. Christopher Neill, of Marsh Road, was arrested by Suffolk police officers on Monday after the girl reported that she had been raped in Fen Park on Sunday after meeting a man she had contact with on Facebook.

Read more
Facebook
Tue, 14:05

A group of police officers who fought a road side life and death battle to save a Great Yarmouth stabbing victim from bleeding to death are to receive top national life-saving honours.

Read more
Norfolk Police

Most Commented

17:06

Plans to rejuvenate the area around Great Yarmouth’s railway station have been given a seal of approval.

Read more
Graham Plant
Yesterday, 13:41

The delights of an early summer seaside break in Great Yarmouth are being featured in a television advert targeting potential tourists in four counties.

Read more

A Gorleston school has been praised by the schools minister as one of the country’s top primaries.

Read more
11:33

A petition has been set up calling for a soup kitchen to be granted a licence to operate in Great Yarmouth.

Read more
Graham Plant
Tue, 15:45

Organisers of an air show have defended their decision to cancel their plans for this year.

Read more
Barry Coleman

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 11°C

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter