Baby sand tiger sharks are thought to migrate up the Atlantic coast from where they were born, because they have recently been spotted in Long Island’s Great South Bay, according to scientists.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium said that the sand tiger shark nursery has baby sharks that range from nine inches to four feet long (23 centimetres to 1.2 metres) and are also just a few months to five years old.
According to Jon Dohlin, vice president and director of the New York Aquarium, the nursery habitats provide great food source and protection to the juvenile animals. Sand tiger sharks will stay in nurseries for four to five years, until they grow larger, Dohlin said. Then, they begin to migrate up and down the coast each season.
Sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) also known as spotted ragged-tooth shark, have narrow snouts and intimidating teeth, but despite their fearsome appearance, these sharks are actually not considered aggressive animals.
According to the New York Aquarium, these sharks can weigh up to 350.5 pounds (159 kilograms) and range from 6.6 feet to 10.5 feet in length (two to 3.2 metres). To keep themselves buoyant, sand tiger sharks – which are denser than water – have a swim bladder that they fill with air.
In 2011, the team received the first alert of a sand shark nursery when a local marina sent them a photo with a dead young sand tiger shark. After that, they found that local boaters and anglers had actually been capturing juvenile sand tiger sharks in that area for years, Dohlin said.
Over the past three seasons, about fifteen sand tiger sharks had been tagged by the team. The International Union for Conservation of Nature said that these sharks are actually a candidate for the Endangered Species List, which is why the exact location of the nursery shall not be revealed, according to Dohlin.
The New York Aquarium stated that there is an extremely low reproductive rate among female sand tiger sharks – a shark only gives birth to one to two offspring every two years. Protecting the nursery may help with the recovery of sand tiger shark populations.
Dohlin says that besides protecting the juvenile sharks, the nursery may also provide answers to a many questions about sand tiger sharks. These include: growth rate of infant sharks, whether they return to the nursery after a year, which factors are needed to make a good nursery, and so on.
Image Source: phys