This Fisherman Stumbles Upon A Washed-Up Shark Egg And Attempts To Save The Baby Inside

By: Lilli Keeve | Published: Oct 19, 2023

It’s not every day that you stumble upon an unhatched baby shark egg while walking on the beach! Remarkable things happen when you least expect it, and that was certainly the case for Xander de Beer. 

It was simply another day for this man when he made a discovery that would make a profound impact on his life. And, he garnered millions of TikTok followers, as well. So, how did the story unfold? 

It Was Just Like Any Other Day

Fisherman Xander de Beer was strolling on the shores of South Africa when he saw something glimmering in the sunlight. He was walking on the beach close to his home and noticed an interesting sight in the sand.

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Source: turismo.it

At first, de Beer didn’t quite know what he was looking at and what was inside the interesting pod. After a few moments, he figured out that there was a live baby shark growing in it. While it’s not rare to find an egg on the shore, it’s rare to find one with the creature still alive. 

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The Discovery Was Extremely Unique

De Beer was in charge of running a fishing guiding and charter company, so he’s seen all kinds of cool creatures. But, this discovery was unique and unparalleled by anything he had ever witnessed before. 

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Source: Xander de Beer/ TikTok

The fact that the shark egg was unhatched made the find even more incredible. De Beer also has a YouTube channel where he shares fishing-related videos. He shared with NewsWeek, “I knew it was a shark egg, most likely a shyshark egg, I didn’t expect to find a live baby shark in it though, usually they are dead by the time you find them.”

What Are Puffadder Shysharks?

The rescued baby shark was named “Happy Eddie” by de Beer, which is also what puffadder shysharks are referred to as. This particular shyshark species, according to Two Oceans Aquarium, are small catsharks that can grow up to about 24 inches in length.

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Source: derekkeats/ Wikimedia Commons

Classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are four Haploblepharuses shark species. Plain Happy and Happy Chappie exist alongside Happy Eddie and two others. These shysharks reside in the temperate waters of South Africa’s coast. 

TikTokers Were Perplexed

Millions of TikTok viewers couldn’t believe what they were seeing and most didn’t even know that sharks could lay eggs. A new-found famous De Beer posted a series of TikTok videos showing him holding up a light brown, oblong-shaped pod to the sun. A tiny developing shark is wiggling around inside. 

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Source: Xander de Beer/ TikTok

Many wanted to know why the unusual shape looks like it was part of a keychain. Well, de Beer posted a follow-up video in response explaining that, before hatching, certain shark species’ eggs have tendrils that cling onto rocks or kelp. He further explained that the baby shark is attached to an umbilical sac, which is its food source. 

De Beer Unknowingly Taught His Viewers A Science Lesson

In the process of showing the world his miraculous discovery, de Beer also opened people up to learning about sharks and shark species.

Source: Xander de Beer/ TikTok

The comments in de Beer’s initial video where he found the egg are pretty amusing! One viewer commented, “shows how little i know….i would’ve thought it was some sort of keychain.” While another person said, “I THOUGHT IT WAS STUCK IN THERE UNTIL I SEARCHED SHARK EGG AND SAW THAT THAT’S AN ACTUAL SHARK EGG.” 

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Taking Happy Eddie Home

De Beer took the egg home to hatch, keeping a close eye on the baby shark’s progress. Sharing his plan with Newsweek, he said, “I brought it home and made a little ecosystem for it, if I threw it back it would’ve just washed out again and it would’ve surely died.” 

Source: Xander de Beer/ TikTok

Since it takes nine months for the baby to grow, de Beer said that he has to keep replacing the seawater with fresh seawater. After the egg successfully hatches, de Beer wants to put it back into its natural habitat of the ocean. 

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A Puffadder Shyshark’s Gestation Period

Female puffadder shysharks lay one or two eggs at a time in egg cases, meaning they are ‘oviparous.’ There is no defined season for breeding, and the eggs hatch after three months. The egg cases possess tendrils at each end. 

Source: Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre

After around 104 days are when the embryonic development period begins after the egg is released from the egg case. Maturing shysharks can grow up to 35 to 55 cm long and can further get up to a maximum of 60 cm long. 

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De Beer Shared Updates

On January 29, 2023, de Beer revealed the latest update to his followers about Happy Eddie. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a happy one. In the post, he wrote, “Not the update I wanted to share with you guys! Sad day for our baby shark!”

Source: Xander de Beer/ TikTok

His 356k followers were extremely supportive and encouraging about the loss of the baby shark. One follower said, “Sorry he didn’t make it, but thank you for sharing him with us. You did a lot for the little guy.”

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The Current State Of The Puffadder Shyshark

As mentioned earlier, the puffadder shyshark is classified as an endangered species. Puffadder shysharks reside in areas where recreational fishing and habitat deterioration threaten their livelihood. 

Source: Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre/ Twitter

They are often caught and discarded by surf anglers, bottom trawlers, and fishing boats. Many are hooked by recreational anglers casting from the shore, thus being discarded or killed. Additionally, aquariums keep and trade them, and are used as lobster bait. They do not pose a threat to humans and can even be caught by hand. 

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