East coast shark population on the rise

East coast shark population on the rise

Researchers take to the Atlantic to survey shark population in coastal waters.

Researchers conducting a shark survey have noted a marked increase in the shark population in the Atlantic waters.

Fox News reported on a survey conducted by scientists with the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that captured and tagged 2,835 sharks this year, up from 1,831 tagged in 2012.  The survey, which has been ongoing for 29 years, searches the waters off the coast of Florida to North Carolina.

Scientists take to the waters every two to three years and record the length, sex, age and location of each one of the sharks they catch along routes where the sharks are migrating to warmer waters.

The leader of the survey, Lisa Natanson, a scientist at the Narragansett Laboratory of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) said the increase in the shark population is tied to limits on commercial shark fishing, enacted in 1993.

Of the over 2,800 sharks caught, 2,179 were tagged and released back into the waters and another 222 were released without being tagged.  Sharks that did not survive the capture were dissected to study their age and growth, reproduction and eating habits.

Thirteen species of sharks were surveyed, with sandbar, Atlantic sharpnose, dusky and tiger sharks the being most common types caught during the expedition, which took place in April and May.

In a press release, Nathanson said, “Sandbar sharks were all along the coast, while most of the dusky sharks were off North Carolina.  We captured a bull shark for the first time since 2001, and recaptured 10 sharks previously tagged by our program and two sharks tagged by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.”

Nathanson added that just because there is a increase in the population and there are many sharks in the water, that doesn’t mean there will be more attacks, saying the survey took place in waters where people do not normally swim.

A twelve-and-a-half-foot tiger shark caught off the North Carolina coast was the largest one caught in the survey.


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