White-spotted bamboo sharks belong to the family Hemiscyllidae and have a elongated grey/brown body featuring darker stripes. They can grow to about three feet long and inhabit the Indo-West Pacific Ocean regions of Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Japan and the Philippines.

These sharks prefer shallow reefs and have slender bodies to navigate between coral branches and crevices. Similar to other sharks, they have electroreceptors on their snout to locate food buried within sand or mud. Their fins are used to “crawl” along ocean floors/reefs.

In a special 12-part video series that culminates at the start of Shark Week 2019 on July 22, the Phoenix Zoo is giving guests an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the remarkable white-spotted bamboo shark! We’ll be the tour guides as we show you how they eat, lay eggs, hatch and grow! 

We’ll be the tour guides as we show you how they eat, lay eggs, hatch and grow! 

Part 3: Growth at Weeks 1 & 2

White-spotted bamboo sharks are oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs.

Each egg is about five inches long and will typically hatch after 14 or 15 weeks. Newborns measure just six inches long!

Check out what they look like at weeks 1 & 2 in the video below.

They are barely visible, but if you look closely, you can see the development!


Part 2: Reproduction and Egg Lay

Males have two claspers located next to their pelvic fins. These claspers are tube-shaped organs that deliver sperm into the female’s reproductive tract. Males initiate courtship by securing a firm grip on the female’s pectoral fin with its mouth (biting it). Sometimes the female will break free of the male’s grasp; other times the female will submit to the male. The act itself only lasts for a few minutes.

These sharks are oviparous (egg laying) and they lay elongated flattened egg-cases with a green yoke inside (similar to a chicken egg). The tendrils on the outer edge of the egg are used to secure the egg in place to hide from predators. Sharks in Stingray Bay hide their eggs by wrapping the tendrils around the pole (as shown in the video) or tucked next to a rock – making it difficult for the stingrays to find them.

Part 1: Feeding Time!

Known as “cat sharks” due to their nasal barbels near their mouths that resemble cat whiskers, white-spotted bamboo sharks use these sensory organs to help them locate food hidden in the sand.