A RARE baby shark has been born in a Scottish aquarium.
Keepers at Deep Sea World are the first in the UK to successfully breed the critically endangered angel shark.
Aquarists at the North Queensferry aquarium have placed the baby shark, which was born prematurely, into a special nursery tank where it is being constantly monitored.
It is thought the female will give birth to more pups over the coming days and a round-the-clock watch is being maintained by staff.
Deep Sea World’s Aisling Thornton said: “As soon as the first pup was born it was very carefully transferred into its own display where it can be kept under observation.
“The first 24 hours are crucial and we are all just hoping for the best and keeping our fingers crossed. The female appears to be in good condition and we are expecting more pups to be born imminently.”
In 2006 the angel shark, which can grow to two metres in length, was declared extinct in the North Sea. At the same time its status was upgraded to Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Critically Endangered means that a species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.
Angel sharks grow very slowly and mature only at a large size. The result is that very few angel sharks reach maturity and breed resulting in an ever declining population.
They are also highly vulnerable to being caught as a by-catch through bottom trawls, set nets and bottom long lines. Historically they have also been used both fresh and dried salted for human consumption, and in the production of oil and fishmeal.