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Sand tiger shark nursery found in Long Island's Great South Bay

Researchers hope their work will help wildlife managers design and implement more effective protections and conservation programs.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 5, 2016 at 5:11 PM

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a nursery ground for sand tiger sharks in Great South Bay, an estuary along the south shore of Long Island.

"The discovery of a shark nursery is fantastic news for local conservationists seeking to learn more about sharks and other species in the New York Bight," Jon Dohlin, director of WCS's New York Aquarium, said in a press release.

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The New York Bight is marine region between New Jersey's Cape May and the eastern tip of Long Island; it's characterized by an indentation in the continental shelf and relatively temperate water.

For the last four years, researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium have been using acoustic tags to track the movements of sharks living near Long Island.

Tracking data showed 10 of 15 juvenile sharks tagged in 2015, and five tagged in previous years, migrated to the same section of the bay as their peers had the year prior. It's a behavior called "site fidelity."

Sand tiger sharks aren't born in the Great South Bay, but migrate south to the estuary waters as pups. They spend their summers near the nursery ground.

By better understanding the migration patterns of sand tiger sharks and other vulnerable species, researchers hope to design and implement more effective protections and conservation programs.

"Through field projects and outreach efforts by the New York Aquarium and other organizations, we hope to raise awareness about our local marine environment and the need to manage our natural wonders," Dohlin said.

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