Science > Life Science > Life Cycles > Shark Life Cycle

Shark Life Cycle Worksheets & Printables

These worksheets will help students learn about shark metamorphosis from egg to newborn to an adult shark. Everything you need for your shark life cycle lesson!

  • Make lots of books about sharks available. Use a combination of fiction and nonfiction texts to immerse children in the world of sharks!
  • Use videos to provide children with a glimpse of real sharks.
  • Create your own Shark Week theme, based on the Discovery Channel’s famous programming. Make shark-themed crafts and complete shark-themed activities to celebrate learning about sharks.
  • Have children research different types of sharks. Ideas include blue sharks, bull sharks, great white sharks, and hammerhead sharks.

Sharks start out as eggs inside the female shark. The next stage, “oviparity,” occurs when the mother shark lays the eggs and they hatch outside her body. This is similar to the way birds lay eggs. The mother shark lays her eggs in the water and they attach to algae or coral. They stay like this for seven to ten months. The egg casing, which protects the egg inside, starts out soft and flexible but becomes hard in the water. The baby sharks grow and develop inside the eggs and hatch when they are ready. They leave the egg case behind and it ends up floating away. Sometimes the empty egg cases float onto the shore.

Some sharks are viviparous, which means the eggs stay inside the mother shark. The eggs are there for 18 to 24 months. During this time, the new baby sharks are growing and developing. They get their nutrients from the mother shark. Once the eggs hatch, the mother shark gives birth to the new, miniature sharks.

Lastly, some sharks are ovoviviparous. The eggs inside the mother absorb the yolk sac, which provides them with nourishment. The baby sharks develop and hatch. When they are born, they look like tiny sharks.

After the egg stage, then the birth stage, comes the newborn stage. Baby sharks are called “pups.” Although mother sharks look for a safe place to either lay their eggs or give birth to their pups, they do not take care of them once they are born. The pups swim away as soon as they are born. Their most important jobs are to find food and to stay away from predators. Pups may be eaten by bigger sharks.

Following the newborn stage is the youth stage. During this stage, the sharks continue to spend their time looking for food and staying away from other creatures that may eat them. The sharks continue to grow, too, becoming much bigger than they were as newborns.

The last stage is adulthood. During this stage, sharks reach their full size. Sharks are very different lengths, depending on their species. For example, a great white shark can be up to 20 feet long! But a spined pygmy shark can be less than one foot long. Big sharks do not have to worry much about predators. Along with killer whales, sharks are at the top of the food chain.

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