Giant hammerhead shark contained 55 pups

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An autopsy on one of the largest hammerhead sharks ever caught has revealed that the fish was carrying a record 55 pups.

The giant hammerhead, which weighed in at a potential world-record weight of 576kg was caught off Boca Grande in Florida in May and the corpse was donated to the famous Mote Marine Laboratory.

According to a report from News24.com, a necropsy on the dead shark has revealed 55 pups inside which were close to being born. Hammerhead sharks were previously believed to give birth to 20 to 40 offspring.

Dr Robert Hueter, director of the Mote Marine Laboratory was reported as saying:

"Although we are thankful the fisherman gave this unique specimen to Mote, and we are learning a lot about this species from this large female shark, we were saddened to see so many unborn pups inside her so close to birth."

Hammerhead sharks, which are members of the Sphyrnid genus Sphyrna, and typically range in size from around 2-6m/6'6"-20'.

The fish reproduce once each year and give birth to fully-formed youngsters, known as pups, which are often released in inshore nursery areas to fend for themselves.

The embryonic sharks live in the placenta of the female shark and receive nutrition via an umbilical cord in a similar way to mammalian babies. The gestation period ranges from 10-12 months.