An ecological assessment of large coastal shark communities in South Florida

Abigail M. Tinari, Neil Hammerschlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given population declines of many shark species, coupled with increasing conservation efforts and recoveries, there is a need for baseline assessments and continued monitoring of shark populations to support management. The waters of South Florida, USA, are used by a diverse array of sharks that occur among a mosaic of habitats and management zones. Here we conducted standardized drumline surveys from Miami through the middle Florida Keys to examine spatial, seasonal and environmental patterns in shark occurrence, catch per unit effort, composition, and demographic structure. Between 2009 and 2021, a total of 21,755 drumlines were deployed, capturing 3398 sharks, comprising fifteen species. Ginglymostoma cirratum, (n = 1335), Carcharhinus limbatus, (n = 650), Negaprion brevirostris, (n = 314), C. leucas, (n = 253), and Sphyrna mokarran, (n = 238) were the most common species encountered. Overall, the largest shark surveyed was a 450 cm S. mokarran and the smallest shark was a 50 cm Rhizoprionodon terraenovae. At the assemblage level, relative abundance among regions and seasons were generally similar; however clear species-specific patterns of abundance, size structure, and sex-composition were detected by season, region, habitat, and management zones. Of the physical conditions evaluated, habitat type and depth emerged as the most influential parameters affecting abundances and sizes of species captured. While few species exhibited significant differences in catches by management zone, areas with the most restrictive fisheries regulations generally supported higher abundances for which differences were detected. These data serve as a baseline for future monitoring of shark populations in South Florida and assessing their response to environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105772
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Volume211
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ecological monitoring
  • Elasmobranchs
  • Florida
  • Sharks
  • Spatial ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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