Fascinating footage shows an unhatched baby shark wriggling around in its egg sac after it had washed up on a beach.
Mother Karissa Otero made the discovery while searching for ‘mermaid’s purses’, empty shark egg cases, with her two-year-old son Bodhi in California.
Ms Otero was stunned when she stumbled upon the baby swell shark, still alive in its case, having become beached after the region experienced a period of high tide.
The tiny creature can be seen wriggling about inside the sac with its stalk still connected to its yolk for nutrients.
Swell sharks lay rubbery egg cases with wiry tendrils at the corners which catch on rocks and seaweed, anchoring them to prevent being washed to shore.
After capturing the video the 34-year-old waded waist-deep into the sea to release it so it would survive when it finally hatched.
Ms Otero posted the footage on social media, where it racked up more than 845,000 views.
‘We came across a lot of sea debris, including seaweed, driftwood, rocks, and shells and along with the debris we found this swell shark egg,’ she said.
‘You can see from the background of the footage in the video that there was no way this egg would have made it back out to sea on time if at all.’
It’s very common to find mostly empty mermaid purses like these along the beach in this region but this was the first time Ms Otero found a live shark in one.
‘I look because I knew it was possible to one day find one as the tide is constantly washing all kinds of stuff on the beach,’ she added.
Fascinating footage shows an unhatched baby shark embryo wriggling around in its egg after it had washed up on a beach. Mother Karissa Otero made the discovery while combing a beach for ‘mermaid’s purses’, empty shark egg cases, with her two-year-old son Bodhi in California
Ms Otero was stunned when she stumbled upon the baby swell shark, still alive in its case, having become beached after the region experienced a period of high tide. The creature can be seen wriggling about inside the sac with its stalk still connected to its yolk for nutrients
While the video received mostly positive reactions when it was shared on social media, some users didn’t realise that Ms Oterro was intending to help the shark.
Ms Otero said: ‘I got mostly excited reactions. A lot of people have never seen or even knew that some sharks lay eggs so they are very amazed by it.
‘People disagreed with me handling the egg and think I’m taking it from its home when in fact we found it and are helping it back into its home.’
Mother Karissa Otero, right, made the discovery while combing a beach for ‘mermaid’s purses’, empty shark egg cases, with her two-year-old son Bodhi, left, in California after the region experienced a period of high tide
Ms Otero said that by releasing the egg into the sea she was showing her child ‘to ‘respect and connect with the world around him’.
‘We have helped many live animals such as crabs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sand dollars, star fish, etc. back into the ocean as we walk along the beach exploring.
‘My son and I go to the beach very frequently. I was born and raised around it and now I’m able to raise my son around it. Some weeks we go every day.
‘We have a lot of respect for the ocean, the beach and it’s inhabitants and surroundings.
When shown the video, the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum confirmed that the egg capsule was that of a swell shark.
WHAT IS A SWELL SHARK AND HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE?
This shark gets its name from an unusual behaviour it displays when threatened by a predator.
When threatened, the swell shark swallows vast amounts of seawater, which causes its belly to swell and makes it difficult for predators to eat
The swell shark species is oviparous which means that its eggs protect and nourish an embryo until it grows to term and hatches.
Fertilization is internal, but little is known about the mating ritual of swell sharks.
After mating, two greenish amber eggs are deposited and become attached, often with the aid of the mother, to substrate items such as rocks and algae, via wiry tendrils of egg case material at the corners of the egg case.
A large yolk, attached to the embryo by way of a yolk stalk, provides nutrition to the embryo during the gestation period, which averages 9-12 months and is, in degree, dependent on water temperature.
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