Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
An intersexual Blacktip Shark Carcharhinus limbatus with a testis, immature female reproductive tracts (embedded), and claspers was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Histology of the single gonad revealed that all stages of spermatogenesis were occurring; however, the absence of ovaries and a male duct system suggests that neither sex would have been functional in this individual. Intersexuality has been reported in 17 families and 36 species of elasmobranchs. The degree to which the different sexes are present in a given individual is often difficult to categorize by normal hermaphroditic standards, as this is typically an anomalous presentation in elasmobranchs. Therefore, this report provides three categories for classification (basic, incomplete, and complete intersexuality) to standardize terminology and allow for more precise comparisons to be made among elasmobranch examples. Basic intersexuals have gonadal tissue of only one sex and a combination of other male and female characters with neither or only one sex being complete. Incomplete intersexuals have gonadal tissue of both sexes and a combination of other male and female characters; however, neither or only one sex is complete. Complete intersexuals have claspers as well as gonadal tissue and tracts for both sexes. The majority of the reported intersexual elasmobranchs, including the shark described here, are basic intersexuals.
Marine and Coastal Fisheries
Hendon, J. M.,
Koester, D. M.,
Hoffmayer, E. R.,
Driggers, W. B.,
Cicia, A. M.
(2013). Occurrence of an Intersexual Blacktip Shark in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, with Notes on the Standardization of Classifications for This Condition in Elasmobranchs. Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 5(1), 174-180.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/7981