Sandbar Shark Pup Born at National Aquarium!

by Holly Bourbon, Curator of Fishes

Published May 30, 2013

We have some exciting news coming from the National Aquarium fishes department - a female sandbar shark pup was recently born to the two adult sandbars in our Shark Alley: Atlantic Predators exhibit!

sandbar shark pup

This is the first pup our female sandbar has had since coming to the Aquarium in 2003!

After the birth was initially observed by staff, the pup was moved behind-the-scenes for immediate veterinary care and further observation.

Baby shark during transport to behind-the-scenes area.

Baby shark during transport to behind-the-scenes area.

Did you know the majority of shark species (including sandbars) give birth to live young?

Female sandbars are known to have a range of 1 to 14 pups throughout their lifetime. This species reaches sexual maturity at around 16 years of age (or later) and their average gestational period is about 12 months. Females also have what’s known as a “biennial reproductive cycle,” meaning they reproduce every other year.

At this time, our Animal Care and Animal Health teams are working closely to monitor the baby shark's health and eating patterns. We hope to increase the pup's overall intake in the next few weeks. Currently, the shark pup only weighs about 4.6 pounds and is only 26 inches in length! Adult sandbar sharks can weigh up to 200 pounds and reach up to 7.5 feet in length.

While the birth of this shark pup is very exciting, we are cautiously optimistic as shark pups have a low survival rate. Our priority is to give the animal the best care possible and consult with partner institutions that have successfully reproduced this species.

Stay tuned for more updates on our shark pup! 

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