Husbandry and reproduction of Whitetip reef sharks Triaenodon obesus at Steinhart Aquarium, San Francisco


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    In January 2009: California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California 94118, USA.


At Steinhart Aquarium between December 2001 and July 2003 four litters of Whitetip reef sharks Triaenodon obesus were born to two ♀♀ producing at least 13 pups. Mean gestation period, estimated from the first appearance of mating wounds on the ♀ to parturition, was 387 ± 33·7 days (mean ± SD; n= 3). On three occasions, ♀♀ were caught and transferred from the exhibit to an isolation tank for the safety of both the pregnant ♀♀ and neonates. Ultrasound examination was carried out and blood samples taken during two pregnancies: at day 272 and day 288 of gestation for ♀1 and ♀2, respectively. An underwater video-monitoring system recorded the birth of one litter of four pups. The total time from when the first pup's tail was observed emerging from the ♀'s cloaca to the full emergence of the final pup was 51 minutes: time between the full emergence of each pup was 10–13 minutes. Adult ♀♀ were returned to the exhibit on the day they gave birth and the mean time between parturition and next observed mating wounds was 95·7 ± 52·2 days (mean ± SD, range 57–155 days, n= 3).