How do sharks mate?

David Remsen dremsen at MBL.EDU
Fri Jul 11 09:20:34 CDT 2003

Male sharks have grooved elongations of the pelvic fins called claspers
which transfer sperm.  Different species have different methods of
copulating but they all involve inserting a clasper into the genital
duct of a female.  Catsharks can completely encircle a female while
other, less flexible species do a side by side or belly to belly
copulation.  I read that some species of Squalus have the means to pump
water into the base of the clasper to stiffen it for this purpose.  The
result is the clasper crossing under the body and protruding
perpendicular to it.  Rays and skates also have claspers and they
regularly mate and lay egg purses in our tanks here which hatch out
this time of year into perfect miniatures.

David Remsen
uBio Project Developer
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA 02543

web admin:
Shark Research Institute

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