Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 37-48

First online:

The shark nursery of Bulls Bay, South Carolina, with a review of the shark nurseries of the southeastern coast of the United States

  • José I. CastroAffiliated withNOAA/NMFS, Southeast Fisheries Center

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Shark nurseries, or nursery areas, are geographically discrete parts of a species range where the gravid females of most species of coastal sharks deliver their young or deposit their eggs, and where their young spend their first weeks, months, or years. These areas are usually located in shallow, energy rich coastal areas where the young find abundant food and have little predation by larger sharks. Nurseries are characterized by the presence of both gravid females and free swimming neonates. Neonates are young bearing fresh, unhealed umbilical scars in the case of placental species, or those at or near the birth size in aplacental species. Bulls Bay, South Carolina, is a nursery for the blacknose, spinner, finetooth, blacktip, sandbar, dusky, Atlantic sharpnose, scalloped hammerhead, and smooth dogfish sharks. The lemon shark has its nursery in shallow waters of south Florida and the Bahamas. The bull shark has its nursery in the lagoons of the east coast of central Florida.

Key words

Migrations Parturition Habitat Elasmobranchs Neonates