A record-breaking litter of rare Sandbar sharks had to be rescued by aquarium keepers to stop them being snapped up by other predators.
In the wild, the environmentally threatened shark can measure up to eight feet long.
But these 15 little nippers born at L’Oceanografic aquarium in Valencia, Spain, are still barely the size of a human forearm.
So to stop them becoming another ocean predator’s lunch, keepers scooped up the shark pups to take them to safety.
Mother Alice – who has been at the aquarium since 2003 – gave birth last week and measures 8ft 2inches (2.5 metres) and weighs more than 220lbs (100 kilogrammes).
The nursery of 15 is the largest reported in the history of the Valencian aquarium and equals the maximum recorded in other European zoos.
The aquarium said it was a success for their conservation policy as Sandbar sharks are listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The conditions in which the animals live at L’Oceanografic, the food they receive and the assistance of the zookeepers are the perfect formula for pregnancies and births to occur.
The rapid intervention of workers who entered the water after detecting the first birth, made it possible to protect the hatchlings from being predated by other larger animals that inhabit the aquarium.
After detecting the first birth, urgent control protocols were activated for experts to quickly enter the water and collect the young with a net.
Now the 15 little ones, eight females and seven males with an average of 19 inches (50 cm) in length and 2.2lbs (1 kilo) in weight are being monitored in the quarantine area.
In the year 2020, a large birth of eight pups was registered.
Until then, Sandbar shark births had only been recorded on two specific occasions, with a very low weight and from first-time mothers.