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Long Island Great South Bay is nursery ground for sand tiger sharks

Long Island Great South Bay is nursery ground for sand tiger sharks

Shore waters of Long Island's Great South Bay has been seen as a promising spot for the sand tiger shark, a fearsome-looking but non-aggressive fish. Only a handful of sand tiger shark nursery grounds have been identified, one of which is in the waters of Massachusetts. The research was led by WCS's New York Aquarium.

Researchers using acoustic tags, devices that allow scientists to track marine animals, collected information on sharks in local waters for over four years. The existence of the nursery in Great South Bay, one of the rich estuaries found along Long Island's southern shore, was confirmed by the data collected.

Jon Dohlin, Vice President and Director of WCS's New York Aquarium, expressed his excitement about the finding and stated that the discovery of a shark nursery was fantastic news for local conservationists seeking to learn more about sharks and other species in the New York Bight.

It was back in 2011 when the team received initial indications of a potential nursery ground in Great South Bay. It all started with the picture of a dead juvenile sand tiger shark from one of the marinas. Follow-up conversations with local anglers and boaters revealed that people had been catching these small sharks in the bay for years.

The discovery of the Great South Bay shark nursery in particular is significant because the sand tiger shark has been profoundly depleted by fishing. This had also led to it being listed as a Species of Concern by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. Since 1997, fishing for sand tiger sharks has been prohibited in state and federal waters.

Scientists are currently working on analyzing the sharks' movements and attempting to learn more about the migratory behavior of sand tiger sharks and their habitat needs.

The low productivity rate of only one to two pups per female shark every two years will lead to slow rebuilding of tiger shark population. Protecting the nursery will help promote sand tiger shark recovery in the coastal waters of the eastern United States.

There are many aspects that remain unknown to scientists about the nursery and more work is underway, including health studies, to address these and other questions.

Long Island Great South Bay is nursery ground for sand tiger sharks