Three shark pups were born to a grey reef shark at the Maui Ocean Center in the early morning on Sept. 6. The three healthy shark pups (two females, one male) measure a significant 29-30 inches in length; that exceeds the average pup length of 24 inches.
The grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) is one of five reef shark species currently listed as Near-Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Fortunately, shark births aren’t uncommon at Maui Ocean Center; the last grey reef shark birth was in September 2016 resulting in three pups as well.
The pups are now on exhibit in the Nursery Bay after being cleared from their quarantine period. Prior to their transfer, the pups were welcomed to the world with a traditional Hawaiian blessing by Ko`i Lum, Maui Ocean Center’s Cultural Practitioner. Under the guidance of Kahu Dane Maxwell, all sharks and rays that enter and leave Maui Ocean Center are given a traditional blessing.
The grey reef shark pups will reside in Nursery Bay before their eventual release to the ocean. The shark “triplets” will serve as ambassadors of their species; the presence of young sharks plays a significant role in the Aquarium’s educational presentations and tours. Staff members participate in teaching guests about shark anatomy, behavior, role in Hawaiian culture, and the challenges the sharks face in the wild.
The mother grey reef shark is also in good health and is currently in the Open Ocean exhibit with five other shark species. Grey reef sharks typically copulate every other year with a gestation period of 9-14 months; they give birth to an average range of one to six pups. In addition to grey reef sharks, Maui Ocean Center staff have witnessed multiple births in the Open Ocean exhibit including white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, and sandbar sharks.
Photo courtesy of Maui Ocean Center