Ripley’s Aquariums have made history with the world’s first successful birth by artificial insemination of a sand tiger shark. Named “Rip” after the company’s founder, Robert LeRoy Ripley, this pup marks a significant step for its species around the world.
Ripley’s Aquariums are at the forefront of sand tiger shark research, working with both wild and managed care sharks to better understand their reproductive behaviors. Sand tiger sharks have a low natural reproductive rate, with females only producing up to two pups every two or three years. Globally, these sharks are listed as a vulnerable species, and in some areas of the world are endangered because of commercial fishing.
Rip’s incredible journey began in May 2021, when a female sand tiger at Ripley’s Marine Science Research Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was artificially inseminated. Sand tiger sharks have a gestation period of eight to 12 months, and she soon began to show signs of pregnancy. Her progress was regularly tracked using ultrasonography. Ripley’s Veterinary and Husbandry Teams kept a vigilant, 24-hour watch on her until Rip was born on 24 March 2022. Mom and baby shark remain healthy, and now Rip weighs more than 17.4 pounds and measures 36.6 inches in total length. He is growing at a natural rate, just as he would in the wild.
“Rip represents the future and an important moment in history for his species,” shared Tim Handsel, Vice President, Husbandry, Ripley’s Aquarium, “When research, science, and care come together, the future of vulnerable species like the sand tiger shark looks brighter. This pup means a great deal to Ripley’s Aquariums and the survival of the species around the world.”
Rip will remain behind the scenes at Ripley’s Marine Science Research Center until he has reached a few additional milestones in his development. Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach will continue to provide “pup-dates” on Rip’s growth on its Facebook page until he is ready to join the Aquarium.
To learn more about Rip and Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, visit www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach