Migrating juvenile sand tiger sharks enter Great South Bay via the Fire Island inlet, shown in this aerial shot. They leave through this same inlet in the early fall.
Many mysteries remain concerning the nursery. Scientists are not sure how much of the bay is used by the sharks. They are also unclear on how many of the sharks are in the bay each summer, and do not know what fish and other foods the young sharks are eating.
As studies on the sharks continue, Dohlin said that conservationists plan to work with local, state and federal authorities to better protect the nursery and the region's diverse marine life.
Recreational and commercial fishing for sand tiger sharks is already prohibited in Great South Bay and in all state and federal waters. The sharks still wind up as bycatch, however, and are threatened by other human activities.
Dohlin does not foresee sweeping restrictions on fishing in the popular region, but he indicated that "gear restrictions" would be considered. "These could limit the size and/or types of hooks."
New York Aquarium researchers are also now working on a new 57,000-square-foot exhibit that will house more than 115 marine species, including sharks, skates and rays. It will be a destination for education and conservation programming, facilitating the scientists' work in the field.
U.S. East Coast Shark Populations on the Rise