It is pretty common for expectant mothers to get an ultrasound of their unborn babies before leaving the doctor’s office with a sonogram picture of their developing offspring. What is not so common, however, is for that mother to be a tiger shark having her ultrasound done at sea.
James Sulikowski, who works at the University of New England as a professor of marine science, has changed our perception of the typical sonogram by showing us some shark pups. By intubating a pregnant tiger shark in order to keep water flowing through her gills and placing her on a board to keep her in place, Sulikowski and crew were able to deliver sound waves into the shark’s belly, producing an image of her growing young. The visual result is a solid confirmation that at least 20 pups are moving about inside although it is possible for the species to carry up to 80 at a time.
It won’t be long before this mother gifts the ocean with a litter of live young that will be immediately ready to get down to the business of being sharks. As seen in the video, they are equipped with plenty of well-developed teeth for their immediate departure from mom and full independence after being born.
Although some species of shark cannibalize one another in the womb, tiger sharks are not typically known for this behavior, so this full litter should be coming soon to an ocean near you!