Do Sharks Give Live Birth?

Unless you have done well-detailed research about sharks on your own, you are also possibly wondering if sharks give live birth. Well, do sharks give live birth? Let’s find out.

The right answer to your question is yes! Sharks give live birth, but not all. Out of over 500 species of sharks living around the world, the majority of them give birth to their young ones live. Meanwhile, others are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs.

Although most sharks give live birth, it might interest you to know that there are various ways in which reproduction occurs in them. The following would tell you more about the multiple ways sharks reproduce.

The Modes of Reproduction in Various Sharks Species

1. Viviparity: In this case, eggs hatch in the female shark’s body. The pups receive nourishment through an umbilical cord that connects them to the mother.

This umbilical cord, which is between the pectoral fins, transfers oxygen and food from the mother’s body to the pups. Also, at the same time transferring waste products from the pups to the mother for excretion.

Sharks that reproduce in this way give live birth. The number of pups can differ, but it is usually between 2 and 20. Examples of sharks that use this method are blue shark, lemon shark, salmon shark, silvertip sharks, etc.

2. Aplacental Viviparity (Ovoviviparity): In this case, the eggs hatch inside the mother and the pups develop inside the female shark’s body. But, this time, they don’t need the help of the placenta to feed them.

This results in oophagy, which means the pups eat any unfertilized eggs inside the mother to survive. Only the strong pups survive in this kind of environment. As a result, very few pups are born to when due.

  1. Oviparity: Sharks that reproduce through this method lay eggs in their environment and leave them there to hatch provided predators do not eat them. The mother does not protect the eggs. The embryos get their nutrient from the yolk until it develops fully. Once hatch, they go on and fend for themselves without the help of their parents. Examples of sharks that use this method are Catsharks, Hornsharks, Zebra sharks, etc.

What is a Shark Offspring Called?

Now that we are sure of how sharks reproduce; you may be wondering what they call sharks offspring. From the stage of emerging from the egg to adulthood, baby sharks go by the name “fry.”

Once the baby can fend for themselves without the help of their mother, you can call them “pups.”

What Kind of Sharks Give Live Birth?

Firstly, Sharks that give live birth are viviparous. Examples are bull sharks, blue sharks, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks, requiem sharks, etc.

Do Whale Sharks Lay Eggs?

This question can be quite tricky because whale sharks do lay eggs but not outside of their body. They reproduce through a method called ovoviviparity, meaning they produce eggs that hatch while still in the female shark’s body and give birth to their offspring live.

Are Sharks that Give Live Birth Mammals?

Even while most sharks give live birth and have characteristics that are like mammals, they are not considered mammals. Mammals are animals that have mammary glands (a gland that produces milk) and give birth to young ones.

The term “mammal” comes from the mammary gland. They are called mammals because they feed their babies on milk, which sharks don’t.

Other reasons also nullify sharks from being a mammal

  1. Sharks are poikilothermic animals, which means they are cold-blooded while mammals are warm-blooded.
  2. Mammals have body hair and fur on their skin surface, but sharks have scales
  3. Mammals also breathe through their lungs while sharks breathe with the aid of their gills.

All these reasons confirm that sharks cannot be mammals. They are species of fish. Sharks are fish because they don’t have the principal characteristics of mammals.

They are part of a class of fish called Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous Fish), which also include rays, chimeras, and skates.

How Do Sharks Reproduce?

There are only a few records documented of sharks mating. However, when mating, the female shark is resistive while the male bites the female shark to hold it down. The male inserts his clasper and releases sperm into the female cloaca.

The sperm may not store in the female before fertilization of the ovum, depending on the species. When ovulating, the female shark releases oocytes from the ovary to be fertilized by sperm. Once the ova become fertilized, an egg case forms around it in a unique organ called the shell gland.

The gestation then continues depending on the mode of reproduction. In the case of oviparous sharks, they lay the eggs, while in other forms, gestation takes place in the uterus of the mother.

How Big are Baby Sharks?

Baby sharks’ sizes vary by species. For example, a newly born great white shark is usually 4 feet (1.2 m) long while whale sharks pup range between 16 to 25 inches (40 to 63.5 cm) in length.

Do Great White Sharks Give Birth to Live Young?

Yes, great white sharks give birth to live young through a process called ovoviviparity. They produce eggs inside their body. But, instead of laying them in the environment, it remains inside their body until hatching occurs.

The gestation time for the great white shark is about 12 months. During this process, the stronger pups feed on the others to survive and keep growing. This method is known as sibling cannibalism.

Why Do Sharks Give Live Birth?

Firstly, some sharks give live birth because that is how they evolve to reproduce.

Another reason why some sharks give live birth is that their pups need a head start in maturing. Birthing live youngs gives them some edge in avoiding predators.

It gives their pups a survival advantage over being eaten as an egg or as soon as hatching occurs.

Where Do Sharks Give Birth?

Where sharks give birth depends on each species. However, most sharks are saltwater sharks, while few can tolerate brackish water to some extent.

Bull sharks are the only exception. They can handle both freshwater and brackish water because of their advanced ability to osmoregulate their body temperature.

It’s only logical to assume that shark would give birth to offspring in an environment it can tolerate.

How long Does a Shark Stay Pregnant?

Pregnancy length in sharks varies per species. Sharks pregnancy, which is the gestation period, usually lasts for an extended period.

This is due to the energy female sharks require during this time. Both the gestation and reproduction cycle in sharks takes about one to three years.

For example, spiny dogfish shark can stay pregnant for two years, while basking sharks’ pregnancy can last as long as three years before giving birth. So, it all depends on the species.

How Often Do Sharks Have Babies?

Most sharks usually reproduce after one or two years.

How Do Sharks give birth?

Sharks give birth through three different methods:

Viviparity: meaning some sharks give live birth.

Ovoviviparity: This means some sharks lay eggs in their body and give live birth.

Oviparity: This means some sharks lay eggs in the environment and leave it to hatch.

How Many Babies Do Sharks Give Birth to in a Litter?

Impressively, sharks can give birth to about 1 to 100 pups.

This varies depending on the means of reproduction. Sharks that lay eggs can have as many as 100, while the ones that grow inside the mother only give birth to few.

Interesting fact:

Sharks do not show parental care.

Which Sharks Lay Eggs?

About 1/3 of shark species lay eggs. Examples of sharks that lay eggs are Carpet sharks, Wobbegong sharks, Horn sharks, Swell sharks, etc.

Do Hammerhead Sharks Lay Eggs?

No, hammerhead sharks do not lay eggs. They give birth to live young. Female hammerhead sharks can give birth to about 6 to 50 pups at once.

What Do Shark Eggs Look Like?

Sharks’ eggs are encapsulated in a case. The egg case contains one embryo except for big skates, which contains up to about seven embryos.

The egg case is made of protein strands and has a rough leathery feeling when touched.

Apart from bullhead sharks’ egg, the other egg cases are usually rectangular. Depending on each species, the egg case has one or more tendrils.

Do Nurse Sharks Give Live Birth?

Nurse sharks are ovoviviparous sharks, i.e., they lay eggs inside their body, hatch them, and then give birth to them as live young. So, if your question is if they give live birth, yes, they do.

Nurse sharks give birth to about 21 to 28 pups in a litter. Their females give birth in late spring and summer in the water off Florida.


If you read to this point, I now believe you clearly understand that sharks can give live birth, however, not all of them do so. Some lay eggs while some give live birth.

Examples of sharks that fall into this category have also been given. There are different methods in which sharks reproduce, which has been thoroughly explained in this article.