26 Years Later… recaptured tagged shark sets new record

Ragged tooth shark. Photo by Dr Bruce Mann, Senior Scientist of the Oceanographic Research Institute, South African Association for Marine Biological Research

After swimming free for over 26 years, a ragged tooth shark was recaptured with the same tag with which it was originally released.

This is a new record for a tagged fish, as well as the longest time that a single tag has remained in an animal.

The ragged tooth shark only grew 210 mm in just under 27 years showing the extremely slow growth rate of these animals. She was caught at various localities along the coast showing the typical migration pattern of raggies.

She was re-tagged her with a new ID tag, and she was released again to continue her journey, hopefully to be recaptured again in the future.

The tag

Ten facts about ragged tooth sharks…

Here are some things you may not know about the ragged tooth shark, or ‘raggie’, as it is fondly known by shark enthusiasts.

  1. Ragged tooth sharks are more closely related to great white sharks than tiger sharks.

2. Unlike other sharks that rely on a swim bladder and a large oily liver to maintain their buoyancy in the water, raggies surface to take great gulps of air into their stomachs, which allows them to stay buoyant in the water with little effort.

3. They prefer shallower waters, which makes them easier to come across during marine adventures such as shark cage diving in False Bay, and elsewhere.

4. Ragged tooth sharks are very tolerant of aquarium life and the first ragged tooth shark birth ever captured on camera took place at uShaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa.

5. Mating among ragged tooth sharks is a dramatic affair as the male needs to swim alongside the female by grabbing her with his jagged teeth, and the females often suffer inadvertent injuries during the procedure.

6. The eggs are fertilised and hatched inside the mother’s body and the female usually gives birth to one or two pups after about nine months.

7. Newly-hatched sharks feed on any other embryos and eggs present until they are large enough to face the outside world. For this reason, the female continues to produce eggs even while pregnant.

8. Once they leave the womb, the pups are entirely independent of their mother.

9. Although the ragged tooth shark appears extremely malevolent with its beady eyes, hump-backed appearance and needle-like teeth protruding every which way from its jaws, it is in fact a docile slow-moving animal and extremely tolerant of humans in its environment.

10. Although ragged tooth sharks have been known to attack humans, this is usually in error or fear. The teeth of the ragged tooth shark are used only to secure their next meal before swallowing it whole. This puts the average sized person way out of their league.


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