Chasing tail: Putative pre-copulatory behaviour in free-living zebra sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum)

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Endemic to the Indo West-Pacific region, zebra sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature endangered species list. Despite this, little is known about the reproduction behaviour or where individuals copulate. In October 2015, two zebra sharks - one male and one female - were observed on a baited remote underwater stereo-video system (stereo-BRUVs) with the male shark biting the end of the female’s caudal fin as they swam together in 53 m water depth off the coast of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. This is the first recorded observation of free-living zebra sharks displaying pre-copulatory behaviour at this depth and is documented to be the early stages of courting, whereby the male is trying to slow and tire the female to then obtain a better position for clasper insertion. Observations of pre-copulatory behaviour in sharks are extremely rare and even more so in the depths sampled here. Documenting similar behaviours and building on singular observations to work towards a better understanding of the zebra sharks reproductive behaviour is needed to identify critical habitats and allow for better informed management decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2019


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