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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Researchers release an acoustically tagged nurse shark into waters off Miami, Florida, to investigate shark residency patterns in relation to coastal urbanization.
Photo: R. Roemer

Neil Hammerschlag, Lee F. G. Gutowsky, Mitchell J. Rider, Robert Roemer, Austin J. Gallagher

Urban sharks: residency patterns of marine top predators in relation to a coastal metropolis

The world’s coastlines are rapidly urbanizing, but how this increased human presence may impact species living in the ocean is poorly understood. In a new study, Hammerschlag and colleagues tracked the movements of three shark species, bull, nurse and great hammerhead, in relation to the city of Miami, Florida (USA). Given the chemical, light, and noise pollution emanating from the coastal metropolis, the researchers expected sharks to avoid areas close to the city, but that is not what they found. Unlike large terrestrial carnivores which generally avoid urban areas (i.e., ‘urban avoiders’), study results revealed that tracked sharks exhibited relatively high use of urban areas, behaviors consistent with ‘urban adapters’.


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