A zebra shark in the aquarium of Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai is reported to have successfully reproduced in the absence of a male. The Aquarium team of Burj Al Arab has announced that the zebra shark inhabiting the hotel’s ‘underwater restaurant’ aquarium is the first shark of its species to reproduce without the presence of a male – a process known as parthenogenesis.
The mother shark currently lives with her daughter, Nimr, who is one of 21 surviving zebra sharks to have been reproduced through the process of parthenogenesis since 2007.
The evolutionary phenomenon has never before been recorded in this species of shark, stegostoma fasciatum (widely known as the zebra shark). It has been genetically confirmed through scientific research, following which an article has been reviewed by peers and published in Journal of Fish Biology.
Working with Dr Khazanehdari of the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai, the process of parthenogenesis was confirmed through the DNA analysis of some of the mother shark’s offspring. The discovery, coupled with the survival of the pups, is a significant breakthrough in science, questioning existing knowledge of shark reproduction.
The zebra sharks inhabit the Oval tank sharing approximately 300,000 litres of salt water with a wide variety of exotic marine life.