How do Sharks Mate?

Robin Leech releech at TELUSPLANET.NET
Fri Jul 11 20:06:32 CDT 2003

Thanks, David.
I have dissected many Squalus acanthus, and all claspers on the male seem to
be pretty stiff.  I just had no idea how they mated, and more to the point,
how is the sperm transferred unless the groove in each clasper is closed
over (sperm fluids would be mostly lost in the water?).  I judge from your
comments that both claspers are inserted at the same time - one for each
Now, are mating sharks actively swimming, or do they relax and fall to the
bottom for a while.  I presume that sperm fluid transfer is somewhat
passive - rather than active as with animals that have a penis?

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Remsen" <dremsen at MBL.EDU>
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2003 7:20 AM
Subject: Re: How do sharks mate?

> 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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