Do Sharks Lay Eggs?

Sharks are some of the most famous fish around, due to their intimidating appearance and terrifying reputation for being a deadly sea creature.

Do Sharks Lay Eggs?

Thankfully, most of us will never come across one in our lifetime, though you might still wonder how they come about.

Do they give birth to their young, or do they lay eggs instead? It’s a question whose answer seems like it would be well-known, given how notorious sharks are, yet many will not know the answer. So what is it?

Well, we’ve got the answer for you! In our handy guide below, you’ll find out whether sharks lay eggs or give birth to their babies.

On top of that, you’ll find a lot of extra interesting information about the topic. 

Do Sharks Lay Eggs?

To begin with, let’s answer the big question. Truthfully, the answer depends, as there are over 500 different species of sharks living all over the world.

Each has their own way of doing things, and so the answer can depend.

On the whole, the majority of shark species give birth to their young, meaning that they do not lay eggs.

Despite being fish, the sharks that give birth share a characteristic of mammals.

The name for animals that give birth to their young is “viviparous”.

However, there are some species of sharks that do lay eggs, and these are classified as “oviparous”.

What Sharks Give Birth?

There are plenty of sharks that give birth, since this is the birth method of the majority of all the shark species. We’re going to go into a few of them below.

A Leopard Shark is a popular type, which is found around the Pacific coast of North America.

Long and slender, this species poses the least risk of extinction, which suggests that their birth methods are going well! 

More threatened on the extinction scale is the Sand Tiger Shark, which also gives birth rather than lays eggs.

Found around places like Japan and South Africa, these are pretty calm sharks considering their terrifying appearance.

The Whale Shark is another type of shark species that gives birth.

These are notable because they are the largest known living species of fish, hence their name referring to the enormous whale.

Like many other sharks, their egg stays in the body and is incubated until it is hatched as a live creature, rather than laying an egg which can then incubate outside the parent’s body. 

What Sharks Lay Eggs?

What Sharks Lay Eggs?

However, there is a good number of species of shark that lay eggs instead of giving birth to living young. Below are a few examples

Carpet Sharks largely lay eggs, but this can differ between varieties of carpet shark.

With some, they lay eggs as you would expect. Others, however, are “ovoviviparous”, which is a half-way stage between egg laying and giving birth.

With these varieties, the fertilized eggs are kept in the oviduct of the mother, and the embryos develop and feed.

Later, they hatch out and feed on nutrients from the oviduct. When they are finally born, it is in an advanced and independent state. 

The Horn Shark is a key species that lays eggs, with the female sharks laying as many as 24 different eggs between February and April each year.

Once they’re laid, the shark picks them up and puts them into crevices in order to stop predators getting to them.

Another oviparous species of shark is the Swell Shark, which is so called because it can swell up to double its normal size in order to defend itself.

It lays two amber or green eggs at a time, and the eggs are flattened by nature.

Those eggs then attach to sea sites like reefs, staying until the baby shark is born.

Mermaid’s Purse – What Does It Mean?

Discussing shark eggs , you might come across the term “mermaid’s purse” or “Devil’s purse”.

These are terms to refer to the egg cases, and have come about because they regularly wash up on shores, to the confusion of people who don’t recognize them.

However, some cases have tendrils on them that help them to attach to features in the sea, such as rocky seafloors or seaweed.

This keeps them more restrained and lessens the chances that the case will be washed up onto a shore. 

A shark egg is actually a capsule, housing the developing baby shark as well as a yolk sac.

The sac provides nutrition to the developing animal.

These capsules normally have just one embryo in them, but there are a few species of shark that can have more than one embryo in a single capsule. 

What Is A Spiral Shark Egg?

You may have also come across shark eggs that have a shape that looks more like a spiral or a corkscrew.

Many of us picture an egg as an oval shaped thing, but these screw shaped eggs are remarkable bits of natural design. 

The eggs are designed this way so that their spiral ridges can hold onto rocky jolts and crevices, staying protected from the threat of predators.

On top of that, waves and surges shouldn’t be able to dislodge them either. 

Not all egg-laying species of sharks lay these spiral eggs, only certain types.

The most notable species is the Bullhead Shark, but the spiral eggs are also laid by the Horn Bullhead Shark, some types of Catshark, the Bamboo Shark, and the Wobbegong.

On top of that, the Swell Sharks that we mentioned earlier also lay them. 

What Is A Baby Shark?

A baby shark is referred to as a pup. However, they are not nursed or looked after like most animal babies.

Instead, pups are treated as independent and have to fend for themselves. 

Final Thoughts

Most sharks give birth, but some species lay eggs!

Mikayla Adams

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