Staff at a British aquarium were stunned to discover a shark they did not know about had been living undetected in one of their tanks for years.
Staff at the resort's Sea Life Center were baffled when two shark eggs were discovered in a tank occupied by resident sharks that give birth only to live young.
The center's marine experts now believe that one of several former curators must have introduced a small tropical carpet shark to the display without recording the fact -- and that it has been in hiding ever since.
"When we found the first egg during a routine dive in the ocean tank just before Easter, we initially thought it must be artificial, and part of the tank's theming decor," said senior aquarist Martin Sutcliffe.
"We were all completely baffled when we took a closer look and realized it was real, and then we found another one about three weeks later."
A fish expert at the center has confirmed the four-inch-long eggs come from a carpet shark -- so called because of their habit of lying on the seabed.
"The ocean tank is a massive half-a-million liter display with numerous dark nooks and crannies amongst the theming," Sutcliffe said. "And it is just feasible that a small shark could have stayed hidden."
"A small carpet shark would possibly feel threatened by the larger sharks in the tank, which is the only explanation we can come up with for it keeping out of sight for so long."
Now staff want to move the shark to a smaller tropical tank and provide her with a mate.
"The sudden appearance of these eggs suggests she has reached maturity and if we partnered her with a mature male there's every chance we would get some babies," Sutcliffe said.