Sharks are spread in all the seas and are known to be the strongest predators among marine creatures. These wild marine animals can live for up to 20-30 years while the whale sharks have a long lifespan of up to 100 years. Sharks have excellent eyesight and can see objects moving even in dim light. Strong smell and touch senses make them amazing and smart predators. With the gift of such wonderful sensory abilities, their prey animals can hardly escape these deep water beasts, once they are tracked by them. Sharks have cartilage and have less bones. Such a body structure brings flexibility which speeds up swimming for these predators. There are all types of sharks that have been prowling in the ocean for years and have become a subject of interest for many. Take a look at the shark life cycle as you read through this article.
Sharks carry their young ones in three forms namely;
- Oviparous: Some sharks lay eggs in the sea. These eggs are differently shaped depending on the type of the shark. The egg has a hard cover, that protects the unborn till it hatches.
- Viviparous: Certain sharks have a placenta that holds the young one inside. The female shark then feeds and nurtures its young one through the placenta. Towards the end of the gestation period the young ones are born into the sea.
- Ovoviviparous: There are many sharks that lay eggs inside themselves. After the eggs hatch the young ones remain inside till they are mature enough to be given birth. Till this time, the female shark keeps them inside and provides them with complete nutrition. Once the pups are well-developed inside, the shark gives birth to the babies into the wild. The gestation period for such sharks may range from few months to even two years.
Lives of Sharks
Life Cycle of Great White Sharks
This robust great white shark mainly resides in the temperate waters and is often spotted alone. These sharks grow up to a length of 21 feet and weigh around 680 kg. The great white shark feeds on many marine animals such as porpoises, seals, sea turtles and other small sharks. These sharks are categorized as ovoviviparous. The females are reported to give birth to around 2-14 pups. The gestation period is unknown for sharks that are ovoviviparous. The female white sharks reach sexual maturity when they are around 12-14 years of age, while males become mature at the age of 9-10 years. The young ones of white sharks measure up to 100 cm at birth and weigh 40 pounds. Sometimes these offspring eat the unfertilized eggs too.
Life Cycle of Hammerhead Sharks
The most unusually structured hammerheads are known to live up to 30 years. These sharks are found in all the oceans and are great at tracking their prey with its distinctively shaped head. The female hammerhead shark produces a litter of 30-50 pups each year. The gestation of these sharks last for up to 10-12 months. The young ones separate from their mother soon after the birth and move to shallow waters for hunting food. These sharks measure 13-20 feet in length and weigh around 500 to 1000 lbs. Hammerheads are known to migrate to cooler waters every year and mainly feed on squids and octopuses.
Life Cycle of Bull Sharks
These aggressive species of sharks swim in shallow waters and are known to attack people, who happen to encounter them. The female bull sharks appear larger than the males and measure up to 11.5 feet in length and weigh 500 pounds. The males grow up to 7 feet and weight around 200 pounds. Bull sharks are categorized as viviparous as they give birth to live pups. Female bull sharks produce a litter of 1-13 pups and their gestation period lasts for up to a year. The pups are 28 inches long at birth and have a lifespan of 15 years.
Life Cycle of Thresher Sharks
Thresher sharks are ovoviviparous marine animals. When males reach the height of 2.7 meters they reach their sexual maturity while female thresher sharks mature at 3 meters. The female thresher can give birth to 4-6 pups which measure around 1.37-1.55 meters in length and weigh about 5-6 kg. The young ones when born grow quickly in the water. The thresher sharks dwell in warm waters and are even seen in coastal areas, hunting for food. On an average a thresher shark lives for up to 20 years or more.
Sharks have been into existence for around 420 million years now and have evolved into many different species. The physical appearance, diet and habitat all together determine the shark life cycle. Every existing shark has unique and distinctive features that make them the most amazing predators among marine animals.