, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 13-24

Distribution, Movements and Growth of Young Sandbar Sharks, Carcharhinus Plumbeus, in the Nursery Grounds of Delaware Bay

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Abstract

During the spring and summer months of 1995, 1996 and 1997, gillnet and longline surveys were conducted in conjunction with tag and recapture experiments to outline spatial and seasonal distribution of young sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus, in Delaware Bay for essential fish habitat mapping, to assess abundance of young sandbar sharks, and to quantify growth during the summer nursery season. Sandbar sharks (n = 943) ranging from 40 to 120 cm fork length (48 to 130 cm total length) were captured; yearly totals were 199, 314 and 430 in 1995, 1996 and 1997, respectively. Individuals were captured between June and October in water temperatures ranging from 15.4° to 28.5°C and salinities ranging from 22.8 to 30.3 ppt. Presence of neonates and catch per unit effort data indicate that pupping begins in late June near the southwestern coast of the Bay. Juveniles were present from early June through September and their spatial distribution in the Bay appeared uniform. Of 782 sandbar sharks tagged and released during the three years, 50 were recaptured. Mean distance from tag to recapture location and mean days-at-liberty of sandbar sharks recaptured in Delaware Bay during the year of tagging were 10 km and 18 days, respectively. Some sharks were recaptured as far as 957 km from the release location. Length distributions show young-of-the-year sandbar sharks grow about 2–3 cm in length during the nursery season.