"The lagoon in Bimini is almost like a lake," said project founder Dr. Samuel Gruber, president and director of the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation. "I realized that we had a chance to capture nearly every shark born into the lagoon each year, and this gave us the unique opportunity to see if the females actually come back to give birth. However it took us nearly two decades and countless hours in the field and laboratory, but we finally answered this long-standing question and many others with this paper."
Sharks live a long time and take many years to mature, which is one reason why they are extremely vulnerable to overfishing. Evidence that sharks utilize the same nursery areas across generations underscores the critical importance of preserving local nursery habitats and can provide strong input in designating inshore marine reserves that would protect sharks of future generations. The fact that some sharks are tightly connected to certain places as opposed to being ocean wanderers also indicates that individual countries or cooperative groups of neighboring countries can take action themselves to protect sharks that are, in a sense, theirs.
The study's coauthor, Dr. Demian Chapman, assistant professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and assistant director for science at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at SBU, said he started out 17 years ago as a volunteer researcher at Bimini charged with catching sharks for tagging.
"When we tagged the first baby sharks in Bimini, Bill Clinton was President of the United States," said Dr. Chapman. "When they started to mature and return to give birth, Barack Obama was President. If you think of all that has happened in the world over that
|Contact: Cindy Yeast|
The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science