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Shark Cousin Uses Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents To Incubate Eggs

Source: CBC News/Emily Chung - February 13, 2018 in Science/Tech

Shark Cousin Uses Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents To Incubate Eggs
Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

Birds might sit on their eggs to keep them warm until they hatch, but deep-sea fish called skates have found a less boring and time-consuming way to incubate their eggs — they lay them near hot hydrothermal vents on the sea floor.

Skates are relatives of sharks that have flattened bodies like stingrays and typically live more than a kilometre below the surface of the ocean. They lay eggs that can take three or four years to hatch in the cold waters of the deep ocean, although the eggs could theoretically hatch more quickly in warmer environments.

Scientists exploring the volcanically active sea floor off the Galapagos Islands with a robotic sub or ROV (remotely operated vehicle) stumbled across a “nursery” in 2015 where Pacific white skates had laid 157 yellow egg cases, each about the size of a smartphone and shaped like a pillow with horns at all four corners.

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