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Reproduction and embryonic development of the sand tiger shark odontaspis taurus

Reproduction and embryonic development of the sand tiger shark odontaspis taurus

Fishery Bulletin (Washington D C) 81(2): 201-226

The capture of 1 ripe male, 191.5 cm TL [total length] and 26 pregnant females, 236.6-274.3 cm TL, sand tiger sharks, O. taurus, from the east-central coast of Florida [USA] from 1946 to 1980 has permitted examination of early reproductive activity and embryonic development in this species. Variations in ovulation rates and oviducal gland activity produce 6 distinct egg capsule types at varying times during gestation. Some egg capsules produced during early gestation contain only ovalbumin and/or mucus while others contain several fertilized ova. As gestation proceeds, more capsules contain unfertilized ova and ovulation rates increase. These latter capsules serve principally as food for the surviving embryo. Sixty-two embryos, 13-1060 mm TL, provided information on intrauterine development which allowed classification of 7 developmental periods based on gestation time, embryonic anatomy, posture, activity, and source of nutrition. Initially, embryos 13-18.5 mm TL obtain nutrition from internal coelomic yolk supplies during a period of early tissue differentiation. In embryos between 18.5 and 51 mm TL, consumption of encapsulated yolk supplies occurs until hatching, between 49 and 63 mm TL. After hatching, the embryo absorbs yolk-sac nutritive supplies and may also consume uterine fluid. At about 100 mm TL, the embryo begins to hunt and consume other intrauterine embryos. At 7-9 mo. into gestation, ova are no longer fertilized. In each uterus, the single remaining embryo, 334-1060 mm TL, consumes enlarged yolk capsules containing 7-23 unfertilized ova. Just prior to parturition the maternal ovary is greatly reduced in size, few egg capsules are found within the uteri, and in each uterus the remaining embryo exhibits reduced yolk consumption and an enlarged liver. Parturition observed in captivity typically takes place from Dec. through March, after 9-12 mo. of gestation. Newborn juveniles are about 100 cm long. [The cannibalistic and oophagous behavior is described.].

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