Dubai: Atlantis, The Palm is preparing for a baby boom of a fishy kind — sharks and rays.
"It is that time of the year. As temperatures rise, we anticipate new baby sharks and rays to be born by end of the year from heavy mating in the lagoons.
"Although it is difficult to predict the number, but up to ten new baby sharks and rays can be expected to be born by end of the year," said Nicholas Derbyshire, Manager, Animal Acquisitions, Atlantis.
He said aggressive mating behaviour by a breed of giant guitar sharks, zebra sharks, whitetip sharks, grey reef sharks and gorgeous black marble rays have left the females tired and pregnant! "What is more interesting is that once the animals deliver, they are ready to start mating and breeding all over again!" he added.
Currently there are 60 sharks and 104 rays in the aquariums of Atlantis, The Palm. "The sharks and rays were very young when they came into our lagoons a couple of years ago. Now they have grown and have shown a healthy sexual behaviour. We can expect more babies to be born through next year as well.
Derbyshire said all new babies will be kept in the marine hospital for two to four months after birth. "They will join the rest of the animals after being nursed at the hospital."
Male sharks like pursuing their partners aggressively and biting down on their pectoral fins as they grasp them with their teeth while they mate with their partner in a fiery union. Fertilisation is internal, whereby one of the two claspers (copulatory organs) in the male releases sperm into the female.
Repeated courtship also injures and superficially damages the edges of the female fins. "Although sharks are a resilient species and have the ability to heal without scarring after mating, heavy mating can leave some tired and with the need to recuperate," said Nick.
Gestation periods vary. While guitar sharks take a year from fertilisation to delivery, zebra sharks can take two years.