Bull sharks expanding nursing grounds inside Pamlico Sound

By on April 18, 2018

Bull sharks commonly feed in shallow water.

Experts say there has been a dramatic rise in the number of bull sharks using the Pamlico Sound as nursing habitat, and they warn of the possible impact on humans.

The findings from combined studies by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, East Carolina University and Simon Fraser University were published Monday at Nature.com.

“Previous assessments have shown little to no use of estuarine North Carolina waters as nursery habitat by bull sharks from 1965–2011,” said the report.

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While juvenile sharks were rarely captured in a fishery-independent gillnet survey of the sound conducted by the Division of Marine Fisheries from 2003 to 2011, they were present every year afterward through 2016.

“Juvenile bull shark presence in the sound was strongly related to early summer temperatures and late summer salinities, which have increased in the estuary over the thirteen survey years,” according to the findings.

Evidence from data collected during a 45-year period also found increasing Pamlico Sound water temperatures for the trawl survey, and combined with the salinity increases, that has allowed bull sharks to expand their nursery habitat.

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“This shift will have unknown, but potentially strong, impacts on both the local ecosystem and interactions with humans,” says the report.

Bull sharks can grow to more than 10 feet long and are known to attack large prey, including humans.

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See what people are saying:

  • Manteoer

    These bull sharks have been captured in brackish and fresh wa ter as well

    Saturday, Apr 21 @ 6:18 am
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