Pregnant shark saved by Bali Sharks Conservation Nursery

Saving Ibu Hiu (Mama Shark)

By Paul F. ( Bali Sharks ),
04. January 2013


On Aug.17 our office received a call from a Denpasar Fisherman regarding a 1.6 meter White Tip Reef Shark that had been captured overnight in net off Singaraja (North Bali.)  I immediately thought that seemed odd as fishermen would rather kill, instead of handling catch that large.  I asked the office staff to find out if it “was a female?” since they are the larger of the species.  The caller did not know as he was calling it in for Fishermen up North.  Regardless if they were willing to drive it down 4 hours we would be more than happy to buy it for their efforts.   Their alternative would be to kill it for the value of the fins to the Chinese market.

The next day I arrived at the office at 4:30pm to prepare for the new shark.  After sitting around for two hours my phone rang and they had arrived to Serangan Island.  As usual a truck pulls and is covered with a tarp to keep the sun off the shark and I noticed bamboo sticking out from both sides of the truck.  Must be to keep the large plastic bag in place.  Smaller Sharks are usually placed in a large bag  with water & then filled with oxygen before tie up.  As they untie the tarp I begin to walk over to the truck reaching into my backpack for my camera equipment.  I look up and am blown away to see a shark swimming in a makeshift pool in the back of the truck.  As a child hangs out of the passenger window Im amazed they transported it this way fully equipped with an oxygen pump.
I can’t help but wonder how many tourist buses they drove by in the past 4 hours, but this is how they roll.

I turn on my video camera & ask the fishermen who called it in, if it was from Singaraja.  The only thing out of his mouth is “It’s female, she’s…..” and he makes an enlarged motion to his stomach.   “She’s pregnant!” is what he is trying to tell me.  Everything all the sudden made sense, the fishermen wanted to save Ibu Hiu, translated as “Mama Shark.”

“Ibu Hiu” is currently healthy and has her own area at Bali Sharks Conservation Nursery.  She is expected to give birth (1 to 6 pups) anywhere in the first few months of 2013.  WIth her arrival the 100 square meter nursery is filled to capacity.  At first it was a great success story as fishermen on the other side of Bali saved a pregnant shark.   However outgrowing the 10 x 10 meter nursery is a reminder of the overfishing & finning problems facing the species.  No sharks in duress equates to no nursery.

The following week we received a call about saving three 2 meter and three 1.5 meter White Tips along with a 1 meter Black Tip Reef Shark from Singaraja.  We were unable to facilitate the sharks in our limited space and found out the next day their fins had been sent to Hong Kong.

Source and Photo Credit: Bali Sharks


  1. Camilla Pallett

    Well done and I am so happy to see the fisherman had the good sense of saving the shark vs slaying it for the fins and pups. Sorry yo hear you could not accommodate the other sharks in need though 🙁 Keep up the great work, you are making a difference! Well done to all

  2. Sarah Sumrall

    Why wouldn’t they put the sharks back in the ocean as another option? Are they injured?

  3. PcF

    Thanks for the question Sarah.

    When we got the call it didn’t make sense they wanted to keep her alive as opposed to finning and killing her. They opted to drive it 4 hours down and bring it to the nursery to save her. They had realized she was pregnant! Not sure if it was their Hindu beliefs but their change in heart saved her. Maybe they thought the next fisherman would kill her. I’ll never know exactly why they made the decision to save her.

    I am happy to announce on March 14, 2013 (almost 7 months after her getting saved) the Bali office notified me she has given birth to 3 pups.

    We fed her heavy to fill in the empty cavity left from her birth. She will be tagged & released back into the ocean this year. I hope to film her & the babies to complete a short film portraying the entire process. I’d like to find the fisherman someday again to thank them as they are actually the real heroes to this story.

Leave a Reply