Have Gulf Sharks shrunk?

According to findings from the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences and the University of Alabama sharks in the Gulf of Mexico have shrunk. The group took shark fishing rodeo information published in newspapers to calculate the average weights.

During the 1920s and up through 1980 Sharks were increasing in size with some weighing in at close to 800lbs. Then in the 1980s things took a turn for the worse, winning sharks were now around the 200lbs range.

Two major issues were overfishing and shark finning( a process in which commercial fisherman catch a shark, remove its fins and toss the shark overboard). Shark management wouldn’t take effect until the 1990s. Before that time boats would stay out until their hulls were full. Thus, emptying the waters of a slow to mature species. Case in point all of the Tiger Sharks caught in the rodeos reported over the last 20 years none would have been classified as reproductively mature.

Luckily laws were put in place banning finning in US waters.  Since that time there have been some positive signs in shark populations. John Carlson, shark expert at NOAA told The Houston Chrinicle “Blacktip shark populations are healthy in the Gulf of Mexico, the sandbar shark in the northwest Atlantic Ocean is showing signs of recovery and its population is no longer exhibiting overfishing.”

The article went on to say that spinner sharks, bull sharks, lemon sharks, tiger sharks and white sharks are also showing increases since the early 1990s.




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