BROOKLYN, NY – Young sand tiger sharks have gathered in the near shore waters off Long Island’s Great South Bay.

Scientists at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium say the baby sharks are located in an area with heavy traffic, where many human activities take place, such as boating, recreational fishing, and dredging, among others.

Vice president and director of the aquarium Jon Dohlin said the “nursery” of sand tiger sharks is close enough to shore waters for the heavy traffic to keep away the shark’s predators. He added that further research is required to find out what is exactly attracting the young sharks to the busy area.

Credit: Live Science/Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
Credit: Live Science/Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

“This habitat must provide food sources as well as protection from their predators,” Dohlin commented. “As long as such key components are met, the sharks will likely continue to return to the site each year.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) informed that the young sharks were first found in that particular area in 2011. The organization started tracking the animals after it learned that local boaters and anglers had been spotting and catching them for years. Since 2011, the WCS has been catching and releasing the sharks.

According to the organization, the shark nursery is a place where juvenile sand tiger sharks can spend up to five years feeding and growing. It is a location that provides them shelter, protecting them from predators. Dohlin suggested that, when they still are babies, the animals migrate up the coast from the place they were born. After three or four years, when they reach a certain size, the sharks leave the nursery and start to migrate seasonally up and down the coast.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified sand tiger sharks as “Vulnerable”, including them on the Red List of Threatened species. The animals are classified as “Critically Endangered” in some populations of Australia and Argentina.

WCS declared it remains unclear how much of the bay is being used by the sharks and what they are feeding from. Scientists are not aware of how many of them come to the bay each summer.

The organization is currently encouraging the public to help improve the conservation status of the species and other local sharks and rays. Dohlin said in a press release that he hoped to raise awareness about the local marine environment and “the need to manage our natural wonders”.

Source: Discovery News