In a survey just concluded by researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NFSC), 2,835 sharks, across 13 species, were captured, tagged and released.
That census count is a whopping jump from the 2012 survey, in which 1,831 sharks were tagged. In fact, NOAA says, it represents the most sharks ever counted in the survey, which has taken place every two to three years since 1986.
“An increase in the numbers caught and tagged during each survey indicates a slow climb back,” said Karyl Brewster-Geisz, in a press release. “It is very good news for shark populations and for the ecosystem,” the scientist with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Highly Migratory Species added.
The survey covered coastal waters along traditional shark migration routes between Florida and Delaware. Many shark species journey north to Delaware in the summer as those waters warm up, after having spent winter and spring in the waters off Florida.
“The number of fish this year was amazing,” said Lisa Natanson, a scientist at the Narragansett Laboratory of the NFSC. “We captured and tagged more fish than ever before.”
Interesting highlights noted by the NOAA included capture of the first bull shark since 2001, as well as the capture of three white sharks, the latter a species not seen in the 2012 survey at all and only once in the 2009 count.
The largest shark captured during the 2015 survey was a tiger shark off North Carolina that was 12.5 feet long. Meanwhile, sandbar, Atlantic sharpnose, dusky, and tiger sharks were the most common sharks encountered during the survey.
“Sandbar sharks were all along the coast, while most of the dusky sharks were off North Carolina,” said Natanson.