Wellington shark's birth a first for science

Wellington shark's birth a first for science

A carpet shark has been hatched at a Wellington marine centre, in what is believed to be the first time the entire 12-month incubation period has been documented.

The female shark, named Millie, was born this morning at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, much to the excitement of staff who'd been monitoring her daily progress.

Discovery programme manager Julian Hodge says Millie's birth is of scientific value because while researchers have hatched carpet sharks before, they'd never know how long it'd been before they found them.

[It's] an absolutely fantastic surprise," Mr Hodge says.

"We don't know about the gestation period in the wild. This is a first, to be able to successfully raise a carpet shark egg from the day it is delivered to the day it hatches."

A female shark was brought to the centre a year ago by fisherman after it had been caught in a crayfish pot.

Mr Hodge says the soon-to-be mother was "a bit damaged" so they took her in to nurse her back to good health before releasing her into the wild, and she started to lay eggs.

The eggs were moved into another tank, where over the next 12 months, Mr Hodge says "countless photographs and heaps of video" were taken of Millie, including one of her wriggling inside her egg.

Female carpet sharks don't have a strong maternal instinct. They lay their eggs and then leave, so when the babies hatch, they have to fend for themselves.

While most sharks have pups by live birth, it is less common for them to lay eggs.

Millie was named after a 15-year-old from Te Awamutu who visited the centre and showed a strong interest in the shark eggs.

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