On May 25th, researchers from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center Panama City Lab, along with CEI Shark intern Ian Bouyoucos, departed from Nassau via seaplane to Andros. They spent the next three days at the Flamingo Cay Rod and Gun Club exploring the west side of Andros. The focus of this leg of the expedition is to 1) take genetic samples from lemon and bonnethead sharks, and 2) to find the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish (a cartilaginous fish, closely related to stingrays).
Smalltooth sawfish populations have declined by over 90% in no small part due to their susceptibility to accidental capture in gill nets. Andros is one of the few places outside of the U.S. where smalltooth sawfish are found. NOAA researchers plan on outfitting these sawfish with archival satellite tags to learn more about their movement patterns.
Over our three day of the West side of Andros the team caught 19 lemon sharks and spotted a smalltooth sawfish. While this one got away, this expedition didn’t see any last year. They are still very hopeful in their chances finding more! They recently arrived at Morgan’s Bluff on Andros to explore the North and East sides for the next week.