Evidence of a Bull Shark Nursery in the Altamaha River Estuary, Georgia

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has developed fishery management plans for sharks that require delineation of nursery areas, monitoring of relative abundance of juveniles in these areas, and identification of habitat relationships between juvenile sharks and the nursery environment. Netting surveys conducted during 2008 and 2009 in the Altamaha River Estuary suggested that the estuary served as both a primary and secondary nursery for bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in 2008 and limited use as a secondary nursery in 2009. Variation in spatial distribution also suggested that bull sharks in the Altamaha River Estuary partitioned habitat based on size. This study represents the first documentation of a bull shark nursery in Georgia waters, but further monitoring is needed to determine the importance of this nursery and to identify factors influencing its use through time.

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