A photo taken by chance is thought to be the first record of a thresher shark giving birth, according to biologists.
Australia-based photographer Attila Bicskos was revisiting his trash folder when he looked closer at the photo of a shark giving birth. Initially, he thought the blob underneath the shark was a jellyfish, but started to rethink the image’s content as he looked at it closer.
“Ever after I had stared at it for some time I couldn’t reconcile it was a birth,” Bicskos said. “I guess it was just too far-fetched for that.”
The shark was at a “cleaning station," a place where wild sharks visit to let smaller fish remove parasites and dead tissue from their bodies, when Bicskos snapped the shot.
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“It looks like this area is not just a cleaning station, which is already massively essential, it’s also serving as a pupping ground,” Dr. Simon Oliver of the University of Chester in England, said. “We’ve seen lots of [pregnant] females there, so I don’t think this is a one-off.”
According to Oliver, the thresher shark has a low rate of reproduction, which is why the image is so valuable. He added that pregnant sharks are rarely seen in the wild and that not much is known about oceanic births.
Oliver hopes the area in which the thresher shark gave birth will become a protected marine area.
The image was published in the scientific journal Coral Reefs in December.
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Photo Credit: Attila A. Bicskos, Wikimedia Commons