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Bull Shark Reproduction

Bull Shark Reproduction


A bull shark's reproductive cycle begins at the end of the summer months when male and females start mating in shallow and low salinity river mouths.

The average female pregnancy cycle - gestation - runs for a time span of 10 to 12 months before she can bear the live young, and then typically producing a litter of three to ten pups.

The species is a member of the fish family 'Carcharhinidae', and as such they are classified as viviparous meaning that their young are born alive and immediately free-swimming.

Newborn pups measure around 70 cm (almost 30 inches) and separate immediately from each other and away from the mother.

The youngsters typically need 10 years of growth to reach full sexual maturity. Common nursery habitats for new born pups are shallow river mouths, coastal lagoons, and brackish water estuaries all around the world.

How Bull Sharks Reproduce

There is limited scientific documentation and observation about the reproduction of bull sharks and their mating behavior.

Some of the facts remain inconclusive about their courting characteristics but it is understood that the matured female needs to reach in excess of two meters in length before she is ready to produce eggs for successful fertilization. By comparison, male bulls reach sexual maturity around 14 years.

Procreation and Fertilization

Bull sharks are mostly loners and roam the seas and oceans completely alone until the beginning of the mating process when they are ready to breed. Speculation suggests that the males are often violent displaying a somewhat bullying behavior prior to procreation during the copulation ritual.

It is believed that males bite their mate’s tail aggressively, often causing serious scratch injuries, until the female finally submits and rolls upside down for fertilization.

The Zambezi has a unique migratory pattern and, driven by evolution, it can survive in sweet water as well as in their natural high salinity marine water environments.

Their pups are born alive in flat-bottomed shallow fresh water rivers which provide them with an environment of maximum defense and protection. Large predators tend to avoid preying in flat underwater territories.

As the juveniles grow up and develop they lose the black coloring on the ends of the fin tips. They mature extremely slowly compared to other marine animals so they need a safe haven to flourish away from large predator sharks.

As they mature they swim out to sea searching for opportunities to mate and begin the bull shark reproduction life cycle once more.

Young bull sharks need a safe domain to live in because they are not reared or protected in the traditional way by their parents. This unusual abandonment at birth is the main reason why there is a high mortality rate in the population among juveniles.

A roaming predator attacking a defenseless young 'zambi' will find it easy prey and a satisfying meal.

More Interesting Facts |> Zambezi Facts and Information |> Habitat and Distribution Range Map |