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Sharks

Dubai Aquarium Launches Program to Breed Threatened Sand Tiger Sharks

posted: 08/19/15
by: Danny Clemens
Sand tiger shark
cruphoto/iStock

Marine biologists at the Dubai Aquarium will utilize artificial insemination technology to breed sand tiger sharks from frozen sperm, the institution has announced. The groundbreaking new program will attempt to revitalize the world's dwindling population of threatened sand tiger sharks.

"Artificial insemination has already been used on brown-banded bamboo sharks with a pup successfully born from an egg," aquarium curator Paul Hamilton told local newspaper The National.

"This is the first time the technique is going to be applied to sand tiger sharks, which give birth to pups in the womb, so it's a real world first."

Dubai Aquarium will employ a full-time veterinarian to oversee the initiative, which builds upon a nine-year tiger shark study carried out in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers from that project will lend their expertise to Dubai's breeding program.

The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) has an unusually low reproductive rate: females breed every two to three years, generally only producing two pups at at time. Highly valued for its fins and liver oil, the shark is a target for commercial fisheries.

The fish's slow rate of reproduction has prevented it from recovering from overfishing; thus, the IUCN has assessed the shark as "Vulnerable" worldwide. Some researchers estimate that as few as 1,5000 of the sharks remain in the world's oceans.

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