RAJA AMPAT – A new breakthrough regarding zebra shark innovation by the Regional Research and Innovation Agency (BRIDA) of the West Papua Provincial Government in collaboration with partners from the Project StAR consortium for the restoration of zebra shark populations in the waters of the Raja Ampat Islands is starting to show encouraging results.
The eggs that are being reared in a local hatchery will be soon released into the Conservation Area in the Raja Ampat Waters to increase the endangered native population as part of global efforts to conserve this species.
The eggs were previously kept in captive aquariums overseas as part of a global collective effort which is the world’s first initiative, and has been coordinated intensively with various stakeholders at national and provincial levels, including the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the National Research and Innovation Agency (NRIA).
This effort is supported by ReShark, an international conservation collective made up of more than 60 academic institutions, zoos and aquariums, nonprofits and government agencies dedicated to restoring shark and ray species around the world.
Field Coordinator of the StAR Project Pokja Team Nesha Ichida conveyed the good news from the hatchery on Kri Island, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province on Saturday, September 17, 2022, that two zebra shark pups had successfully hatched from the egg sac.
The two zebra shark pups are very healthy and have immediately eaten the squid and bamboo shoots as the food provided.
According to aquarium experts overseas, the first month after hatching is the most critical month for the growth of the pups as they are often difficult to feed.
Thus, the news surely tells that the two pups are already showing signs of very good growth.
“Yesterday I checked it by myself, the condition of the pups, both of which have been identified so far as female. Because the clasper (male reproductive organ) is sometimes still too small to be seen in puppies that are only a few days old, I will clarify again in the next few days,” explained Nesha.
Furthermore, Nesha said that the length of the first shark from the eggs that hatched on Saturday morning was 32 cm and weighed 101 g, while the second shark from the eggs that hatched on Saturday night was 30.5 cm and weighed 97 g.
In accordance with the good progress of the zebrak shark, the other pups may begin to hatch in the next few weeks.
This is because the two eggs that have hatched come from the egg sacs that are “laid” by the female shark on the same day, around April 24.
Meanwhile, the other eggs are laid in May, so they are still waiting for the process to hatch.
“I would like to congratulate all my working group colleagues and of course our working group chair Prof. Dr. Charlie D. Heatubun, S.Hut, M.Si who has broken through in implementing the world’s first program,” said Nesha.
“We believe this program will be successful in restoring the zebra shark population in Raja Ampat and can provide information and become a model for the world in restoring the zebra shark population,” he concluded.