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Epaulette sharks are born prematurely in warmer waters. Baby sharks are being born small, exhausted and undernourished as a result of rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at the effects of warming waters on juvenile epaulette sharks ( Hemiscyllium ocellatum ) — a small, egg-laying species of shark found in the Great Barrier Reef, that spends most of its time on the seafloor.
Studying their egg sacs in a laboratory at the New England Aquarium in Boston, the researchers discovered that warmer waters led to premature births of the baby sharks inside.
“The hotter the conditions, the faster everything happened, which could be a problem for the sharks,” study lead author Carolyn Wheeler, a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU) in Australia, said in a statement.
“The embryos grew faster and used their yolk sac quicker, which is their only source of food as they develop in the egg case. This led to them hatching earlier than usual.”
Example of an egg case laid by a smaller shark or ray. […]