Monday, February 18, 2013

Bull shark reproduction

Why is reproduction so important?
Bull sharks vulnerability is characterized by its low reproductive potential. What does this mean?

Sharks have many reproductive constraints ; which have compromised them:

• They have very few young, this is also known as a low fertility rate.

• They reach sexual maturity relatively late.

• They have very long gestation periods.

Reproduction in sharks is key to determine the size and health of its population. It is very important to understand bull shark´s reproductive cycle, because this determines the minimum time required for its population to double.

The following list will explain important characteristics about bull sharks reproduction:

• 1. The reproduction method is viviparous, fertilization is internal and the embryos develop in a couple of uteri, therefore receiving the exchange of nutrients and wastes through a placenta.

• 2. Bull sharks have a late sexual maturity. Males reach maturity approximately when they are about 157 and 226 cm long. Females reach maturity between 180 and 230 cm in total.

• 3. Bull shark can have from 1 to 13 pups. Of these pups the number that will be able to survive the early years is very low.
One of the bull shark features is that the mother does not takes care of them after birth, this is why sharks decide to have their young in coastal waters, in order to protect them from predators.

• 4. The shark gestation periods are very long. In the case of bull shark is about ten to eleven months, once the shark gives birth to their young, shark pups show very slow growth rates and face too many risks while growing. A young bull shark is about 60 cm long at birth.

All these aspects of Bull Sharks reproductive cycle; in particular the low reproductive potential are essential for scientists working in Playa del Carmen in order to determine the impact that illegal fishing is having on the bull sharks populations in Playa del Carmen.

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