Preliminary surveys have shown that dusky and silky sharks are sporadically abundant here in Exuma Sound. All of the silky sharks that we have captured to date have been juveniles and subadults, leading us to believe that this region could provide some of the benefits of a nursery habitat to this species. All of these pelagic sharks are most commonly found in association with schools of tuna feeding at the surface.
Pelagic sharks like these are threatened by fisheries bycatch and direct exploitation in purse seine, longline, and gillnet fisheries around the world, including in the NW Atlantic and in the wider Caribbean region. Silky sharks in particular are among the most at-risk shark species in the Atlantic and are further listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In order to learn more about these animals and support their sustainable management, we are conducting a series of research projects on the following:
What do these species eat and what role do they play in the wider food web? Where do they feed and what habitats provide them with the most nutrients?
Movements and Habitat Use
Do pelagic sharks here migrate over long distances or are they resident in Exuma Sound? What factors drive the horizontal and vertical movements of these animals? At what depths do these species occur, and how might their preferred depths overlap with commercial fisheries elsewhere?
How do silky and dusky sharks respond to longline capture? Can we reduce bycatch associated with fish aggregation devices (FADs) by understanding their behavioral ecology?
For more information about this research project, contact Brendan Talwar.