Reproduction of the bull shark

Why reproduction is a key aspect?

The vulnerability of bull sharks is characterized by their low reproductive potential. What does this mean?

Sharks have many reproductive limitations that have put them in danger:

• They have very few offspring, this is also known as low fertility.

• They reach late sexual maturity.

• They have very long gestation periods.

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

Important characteristics on the reproduction of the bull shark, which must be taken into account are:

1. The bull shark reproduction mode is placental viviparous, the fertilization is internal and the embryos are developed in a pair of uteruses receiving the exchange of nutrients and waste by means of a placenta.

2. Bull sharks have a late sexual maturity. The males reach maturity approximately when they measure between 157 and 226 cm of total length. The females reach maturity between 180 and 230 cm in total length.

3. Bull sharks can have from 1 to 13 young, of these young the number that survives the first years is very low, since one of the characteristics is that their mother does not take care of them at birth, that’s why sharks decide to have their young in coastal waters, in order to protect them from predators.

4. The gestation periods of sharks are very long. In the case of the bull shark it is approximately ten to eleven months, once the shark gives birth to its young; Puppies show very slow growth rates and face too many risks as they grow. A young bull shark is about 60 cm long at birth.

All these aspects of the reproductive cycle of the bull sharks, especially the scarce reproductive potential, are essential for scientists working in Playa del Carmen to determine the impact that illegal fishing is having on the bull shark population of Playa del Carmen.



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