A BABY shark hatched at the Octopus Centre on Arran was released into the wild by staff last month.

The small-spotted catshark was released into the sea because staff at the centre were unable to care for it as they remain homebound by the lockdown.

It was released at low tide into the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone, a marine protected area (MPA), where they say it will stand a good chance of survival.

In March, Arran COAST who manage the Octopus Centre, Scotland’s first MPA visitor centre, had to release many of the marine species under their stewardship back into the wild as staff were no longer able to monitor them sufficiently.

They did however retain a Mermaid’s Purse, a leathery egg capsule that houses the embryos of shark, ray and skate species, that they found in the waters of the South Arran MPA in summer 2019. They suspected that it was almost ready to hatch and given the amount of effort that went into nurturing it to that stage, they decided to keep hold of it and monitor its progress through the vital final stages.

During a weekly check, Jenny Stark, outreach and communications manager at COAST, discovered that the egg had hatched and had to make the decision whether to let it go when it is was so small, or to nurture it and meet the demands of a new born over the coming months.

Ideally they would have opted for the latter, but because staff are not able to give the attention necessary due to coronavirus they decided the best course of action was to release it into the wild.

A spokesperson for Arran COAST said: “Although we are sad we didn’t get to see the shark hatching, we are delighted that we know we can provide a happy, healthy environment for them to grow whilst also providing a fantastic educational opportunity.”