This article originally appeared on The Conversation. You can read it here.
If you have a toddler, or if you encountered one in the last year, you've almost certainly experienced the "Baby Shark" song. Somehow, every kid seems to know this song, but scientists actually know very little about where and when sharks give birth. The origins of these famous baby sharks are still largely a mystery.
Many of the large iconic shark species – like great whites, hammerheads, blue sharks and tiger sharks – cross hundreds or thousands of miles of ocean every year. Because they're so wide-ranging, much of sharks' lives, including their reproductive habits, remains a secret. Scientists have struggled to figure out precisely where and how often sharks mate, the length of their gestation, and many aspects of the birthing process.
I am a Ph.D. student studying shark ecology and reproduction and am on a team of researchers hoping to answer two important questions: Where and when do sharks give birth?