Why can’t sharks just breed more to replenish their numbers?

Being apex predators, it is natural for shark numbers to be low. Compared with other fish, sharks are slow growing and take years to mature – for example, the female Atlantic dusky shark doesn’t reproduce until at least 20 years old. Also, sharks do not always breed every year, bear relatively few young and have long gestation periods – the spiny dogfish carries her pups for nearly two years (which is one of the longest gestation periods of any animal). All of this makes shark populations highly vulnerable to over-fishing.

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