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Center for Fisheries Research and Development

Shark Research

Shark Identification Guide

Researchers in CFRD conduct in-depth age and growth studies of elasmobranchs to better understand life history. To conduct this work, researchers section a single vertebral centra and examine growth bands which are visible in the corpus calcareum. Each band pair consists of a period of expanded growth (partially translucent band) followed by a period of condensed growth (opaque band). This research provides a better characterization of the population which allows for better informed fisheries management and ultimately sustainability and conservation of these species. 

Investigating the feeding ecology of sharks is important to understand what role each species plays in the marine food web. CFRD researchers identify prey items, from stomach contents, to better define the trophic structure within the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Satellite
Satellite telemetry projects in CFRD have focused on the large-scale movement of shark species in the northern Gulf of Mexico. These studies have highlighted seasonal variations in habitat use, preferred habitats, home ranges, and migratory patterns for several different species, such as the silky, tiger, bull, blacktip, and whale sharks.

Acoustics
Acoustic telemetry allows biologist in CFRD to investigate fine scale habitat use and movement patterns of sharks in Mississippi coastal waters. These studies have highlighted seasonal movement patterns and important habitat features of Atlantic sharpnose, bull, and sharpnose sharks in our local waters.

CFRD participates in multiple fishery-independent monitoring projects that help define shark resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Currently, these studies include projects supported by the Sport Fish Restoration Fund, NOAA SEAMAP, and NOAA GulfSPAN. Data collected during these surveys is provided to State and Federal partners for use in stock assessments.

Examination of the reproductive biology of sharks allows CFRD researchers to better define important life history traits to be considered for future management and conservation. This research helps define the size-at-maturity, reproductive seasonality, embryonic development, and gestation period for species in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Investigating the stress response of sharks is important to better understand how capture and handling effects each species. CFRD researchers examine blood chemistry (i.e. lactate, glucose, pH, pCO2, and hematocrit) of captures sharks to assess stress and post-release survivability.   

Photo Identification
Whale sharks have a unique spot pattern which is useful for individual identification. Photographs, primarily of their left side, can be used to compare spot patterns and ultimately provide a means of identifying individual whale sharks. 

Sightings Survey
The whale shark sighting survey has been successful thanks to participation from members of the public. This survey allows individuals to report sightings in the Gulf of Mexico and contributes to the growing body of information pertaining to whale sharks in our region.

 

 

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Contact Us

Center for Fisheries Research and Development

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
703 East Beach Drive
Ocean Springs, MS 39564

Gulf Park Campus

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Email
FisheriesFREEMississippi%20

Phone
228.818.8823