A female shark which has had no contact with males for more than two years is poised, biologists believe, to become a mother to two babies.
The white-spotted bamboo shark has lived at Great Yarmouth’s Sea Life Centre since 2013 after her previous home in Hunstanton was damaged in floods.
Her handlers say she has not had contact with any male sharks since the move and remains the only member of her species at Great Yarmouth.
She has been the only member of her species at the centre in that time and has had no contact with male sharks.
Despite her captive celibacy, experts claim she has produced two fertile eggs, which could hatch in nine months’ time and become the first British births of their type.
Marine biologist and shark expert Darren Gook said: ‘They will be the first such births in the Sea Life network and we’re excited and privileged to be expecting such a miraculous event.’
The discovery of the two eggs containing valid embryos comes within days of the announcement in Germany of a second generation virgin birth involving the same bamboo shark species at a research facility in Munich.
Mr Gook said: ‘The process is called ‘parthenogenesis’ and has long been known to occur in domestic chickens and some reptiles, but was not recorded in sharks until 2008.
‘Females somehow manage to add an extra set of chromosomes to their eggs to produce off-spring which are either clones or half-clones of themselves.