Donated tropical sharks hatch at Hastings aquarium

Image caption, The dark bands on the shark's body gradually fade as it matures.

A group of tropical shark babies have started hatching at a Sussex aquarium.

The banded cat sharks, which are found throughout the Indian and Pacific ocean, are part of a breeding programme at Hastings' Blue Reef Aquarium.

They arrived at the centre in egg cases, or mermaid's purses, four months ago and two hatched over the weekend.

Aquarium spokeswoman Kate Buss said: "It has been quite a tense wait but we were delighted when the first babies started hatching out."

The aquarium said the other banded cat sharks could be seen wriggling in their cases and it was hoped they would all hatch in the next few days.

'Start feeding'

She added: "Everyone had hoped to actually witness them emerging from the egg cases but banded cat sharks - like most shark species - tend to be born at night as this helps protect them from would-be predators.

"The youngsters all seem to be doing extremely well. For the first few days they live off a yolk sac but after that they begin to start feeding on their own."

The banded cat sharks were donated to the aquarium by its sister site in Newquay, Cornwall.

The creatures usually live around coral reefs and tide pools and reach a maximum length of about a metre (3.2ft) when fully grown.

The dark bands on their bodies gradually fade as they mature.

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