Rare Sharks Are Flocking to Long Island

Sand tiger sharks frequenting a nursery ground in Great South Bay
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2016 12:52 PM CST
Rare Sharks Are Flocking to Long Island
A sand tiger shark swims at the Zoo-Aquarium in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Mean-looking sharks are visiting waters off Long Island for what Fox News calls "summer camp for baby Jaws." Fear not, it's actually a good thing. Scientists at New York Aquarium have discovered a nursery ground for sand tiger sharks, which are actually docile, in Great South Bay. Researchers began tracking the sharks—which the National Marine Fisheries Service considers a "species of concern"—in 2011 when a dead juvenile was found at a marina. With help from acoustic transmitters and tags, they discovered juvenile sharks were frequenting Great South Bay to feed and develop. "Sand tiger shark pups are not born here but migrate from down south to spend the summers as juveniles in New York's coastal waters," a scientist tells the New York Daily News, adding 15 sharks tagged so far "will help us better understand where the sharks go, their habitat needs, and how we can better protect them."

Protection is particularly important as the sharks' habitat sees plenty of boating, fishing, and dredging, reports Discovery News. However, "the nursery is so close to shore waters that the heavy traffic could be keeping away the shark's predators," says a researcher. More research is needed to determine why the sand tiger sharks—listed as "vulnerable" and "critically endangered" in other parts of the world—are drawn to Great South Bay, but "this habitat must provide food sources as well as protection from their predators," the researcher adds. "As long as such key components are met, the sharks will likely continue to return." Only a few nurseries for sand tiger sharks have been found, including one off Massachusetts, per CBS New York. Sharks up to five years of age have been spotted in Great South Bay. (The East Coast's shark population is booming.)

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