10% of profits from your purchase will go directly toward the Shark Research and Conservation (SRC) Program at the University of Miami, helping to fund important research focused on the ecology, movement and conservation of nurse sharks as well as other local shark species. In addition to research, the SRC program is actively aimed at student education and community outreach through extensive citizen science and internship programs.
Nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) are globally classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Data Deficient”, with an unknown population trend, and thus, more research on their population size, distribution and trends, ecology, and threats is needed. Though they can grow up to 14 feet in length, they are slow moving bottom-dwellers, inhabiting the warm, shallow waters of the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans. Nurse sharks are particularly vulnerable to coastal fisheries and indirect coastal impacts from human activities, particularly in reef areas which constitute its main habitat.
Multiple research methods have shown that some species of sharks have declined in population by 90% or more during the last several decades in areas where they were formerly abundant. These declines are due to direct targeting in commercial fisheries, mostly for their fins and sometimes meat. Additionally, sharks are often caught unintentionally as bycatch in many other fisheries, caught and killed in some recreational fisheries (unlike catch and release), and may also be impacted by humans more indirectly through threats like habitat loss, pollution, and human-driven declines in the fish species sharks rely on for food.
Nurse shark skin viewed up close. The diamond shaped structures are actually modified teeth, called dermal denticles. This tough exterior increases hydrodynamic efficiency and provides protection to sharks, though its shape and structure varies across species. Nurse shark dermal denticles, for example, are designed less for speed and more for protection, making them much less sharp to the touch than other species.
Sharks have been in the ocean for more than 450 million years. Granted, they’ve evolved a bit since then, but they’ve survived five major extinction events! Help us to celebrate these amazing animals, support research to inform management of their populations, and use your gear as a conversation piece to educate others.
Learn more about some of the research conducted by the Shark Research and Conservation Program. This Waterlust video explains the findings of a paper published in the scientific journal of Diversity and Distributions entitled "Use of marine protected areas and exclusive economic zones in the subtropical western North Atlantic Ocean by large highly mobile sharks."
The study investigated the core home habitat use of bull, great hammerhead and tiger sharks tagged in waters off south Florida and the northern Bahamas to understand if these highly mobile shark species might benefit from spatial protection, such as marine protected areas (MPAs).
Click here for the link to the full paper.