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Oviparous species eggcase recovery and release

Sharklab-Malta was the first NGO in the world to grow their own sharks from eggs recovered from dead females. To find out how this project began, read on below!

This project began in 2011 with the chance discovery of a single encapsulated egg from a Smallerspotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula) during the collection of landings data at the wholesale fishmarket in Valletta. The eggcase containing a shark egg was taken from the market and placed in a simple and small aquarium "just to see if anything would happen". To our amazement... it did.

After a couple of weeks a small transparent embryo could be seen, on top of the yolk sac, moving. It continued to develop for a few more weeks, but then sadly it stopped. It sparked an idea…


Would it be possible to take the encapsulated eggs from sharks at the fish market, from their dead mothers, and would they develop and hatch ? 



From 2012 onwards we worked hard collecting eggs from both Smallerspotted Catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula) and Nursehounds (Scyliorhinus stellaris). With some success and some sadness we kept working to find the correct conditions for these sharks to develop in an aquarium replicating the sea, where they should have been laid. With success in 2013 we released our first shark, back into the waters around these beautiful islands. 


With the full support of the Malta National Aquarium, we have continued this project to recover eggcases from dead “Oviparous” sharks caught by fishermen, and have year by year released more sharks into our local waters.  

This idea was a first in the world and has now been adopted with success in several countries. This was partly due to the publication of a paper describing this process as a novel approach to shark conservation.


It is quicker to put this methodology into action than to change laws and legislation to save a species of oviparous shark or Skate. The changes can take years, but with this methodology and a simple set up, the ability to make a practical change can be done in a very short length of time. Once up and running, then the legislation and law can be focused upon.


If you want to support the “Oviparous species recovery and release program” you can do it easily by adopting a shark.

To date, Sharklab-Malta has recovered and released...

350 sharks

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