Quadruplet Sharks Born in Steinhart Aquarium
It's A Girl! And Three Unknowns!
Aquatic Biologists at the California Academy of Sciences Welcome Four
Healthy Shark Pups Born to First-Time Mother
San Francisco (February 27, 2002) - Marsha, a six-foot long, white-tipped
shark who lives in Steinhart Aquarium, gave birth to four 25-inch, three-pound
baby sharks late last week. The pups were first discovered at approximately
6 a.m. on Friday, February 22, by the staff of the aquarium at the California
Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. One of the pups
has been identified as a female, the sex of the other three is not yet
"It's a rare event for a first-time mother of this species to give
birth to four, healthy shark pups in captivity," said the shark's
keeper, Pam Schaller, aquatic biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium. "We
hadn't been expecting more than two pups. But the newborns are feeding
well and we are optimistic about their chances for survival."
Baby sharks often don't make it past their first five days of life; but
Marsha's children appeared to be healthy and feeding well. The young sharks
have been eating approximately 5% of the their body weight each day and
have been resting as a group in a dark corner of their tank.
Schaller suspected that Marsha might be pregnant when she noticed bites
around the shark's gills in February 2001. Male sharks typically bite
females during copulation, which lasts about two minutes.
The mother had been kept in a private tank since November 2001 (when an
ultrasound confirmed her pregnancy) to protect her offspring from the
other sharks in the tank. Shortly after giving birth, Marsha was returned
to the main shark tank, to ensure that she wouldn't eat her own young.
The gestation period was approximately 13 months.
The father of the four pups is either Amos or Arthur - the two male, white-tipped
sharks at the Steinhart Aquarium. Back in the tank, Marsha was immediately
subject to the advances of the two males. The three sharks have lived
at the Steinhart since 1996 when the Academy's exhibit, "Sharks of
the Tropics" opened.
White-tipped sharks (Triaenodon obesus) are native to the tropical areas
of the Indian and Pacific Oceans; they are often found near the Galapagos
Islands. The sharks are most active at night, often spending their days
resting in caves and reefs.
The Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences houses over
6,000 live specimens, representing nearly 600 species of fishes, large
invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and penguins in almost 200 tanks.
Founded in 1923, the Aquarium is now home to one of the most diverse collections
of aquatic life in the world.
[The California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium
and the Academy's logo are registered trademarks of the California Academy
# # # #