Shark Populations Increasing Around Southeast

A new study reveals that six species of coastal sharks are increasing in number thanks to a federal management plan launched nearly 25 years ago.

Blacktip shark, Florida Bay
Blacktip sharks, like this one in Florida Bay, are among six species of shark that are increasing in number.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

After decades of decline, shark populations along the U.S. Southeast coast are on the increase.

A new analysis shows that six coastal shark species are increasing in number since enactment of a National Marine Fisheries Service shark-management plan in 1993.

“Our research suggests we can begin to shift away from the era of 'doom and gloom' regarding shark status in the United States,” says lead scientist Cassidy Peterson, a graduate student with William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The study — “Preliminary recovery of coastal sharks in the southeast United States” published in Fish and Fisheries, Feb. 10, 2017 — used the data from six separate scientific surveys conducted since 1975 to provide the most accurate assessment to date.

Specifically, on the upswing are populations of four large sharks — blacktips, spinners, tigers, sandbar sharks — and two smaller species — Atlantic sharpnose and bonnetheads. Only blacknose sharks in the Gulf of Mexico did not meet criteria to be considered recovering (per its harvest as bycatch in the shrimp-trawl fishery).

Read more about this study in a phys.org report.

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