Artificially Inseminating Sharks Reveals “Virgin Births” may be more common than thought

A blood-thirsty tooth hunter may not be as easily sold as any species needs, but sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems and protecting them is as appropriate as any other conservation effort.

Shark populations are declining in the face of fishing, pollution and the threat of warm oceans, and captive breeding programs are an important tool to ensure their future. In these programs, zoos and aquariums around the world work to match male and female sharks in a way that encourages genetic diversity. This means creating long-distance shark pairs from each other, so it may take some initiative to bring together predictable lovers IRL. A new study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports was able to create 97 baby sharks (du, du, d’do d’do…) with the help of artificial insemination. Some babies were born to parents from all over the country, while others have no parents.

The project created sharks as a tool for artificial insemination so that the geographical location now required only semen transport without any barriers to “mating”. This method can preserve genetic diversity while reducing stress on traveling animals (although it is a matter of Texas finding sharks on a highway). Conveniently focusing on small white jute bamboo sharks (would you collect sperm from the great white?), the researchers first confirmed that expectant mothers still do not carry sperm from any past flashing.

Whitespotted bamboos spread so regularly that they were known as “sea chickens,” so their infertile egg output could be used as an indicator that they were suitable for fertilization. This was followed by semen collection, in which 82 samples were taken from 19 sharks. How, you ask? “The short answer has been given very carefully,” lead author Jane Waffles told IFLScience. “Although there are differences between shark species, in general, semen accumulates in paired ampullae or seminal vesicles located at the end of the reproductive tract near the cloaca. The semen leaves the male through the urogenital papilla, which can enter from the cloaca.