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Scientists Discover Hammerhead Shark Nursery in Fiji
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, June 3, 2016 @ 12:00 AM (EST)
Source: Hakai Magazine

According to new research, the lower reaches of Fiji’s Rewa River could be an important nursery site for endangered scalloped hammerheads, giving juvenile sharks a vital haven away from predators where food is comparatively abundant.

Kelly Brown, a marine conservationist at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, was first made aware of the young animals by fishers living along the Rewa. “I started thinking about the estuary potentially being a nursery for hammerhead sharks, and I was hooked,” says Brown. “I wanted to research this.”

The well-known schooling behavior of scalloped hammerheads means that the sharks are very vulnerable to fishing, so the if they are indeed using the river as a nursery, it’s great news for conservationists working to protect the threatened creatures. While hammerheads do not care for their offspring—like all sharks—appropriate habitable coastal areas accommodating litters of up to 30 pups provide essential nurseries for the young to mature in relative safety.

Brown and his team studied more than 80 baby hammerheads, working at night when the sharks are active, and identified a healthy population of juvenile sharks in the estuary. The team will hopefully be able to confirm that the area is a bona fide nursery when they eventually observe pregnant females visiting the area to give birth. That would make this the first known nursery for scalloped hammerheads in Fijian waters.

Brown says: “I ultimately hope that we can protect these areas to allow young scalloped hammerhead sharks to have a fighting chance to make it to adulthood.”

Read more here.



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