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Volume 40, Issue 3
May 2024

Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
Tiger Beach Sand Flat, Grand Bahama Island

Tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, are commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical waters throughout the world. Large specimens can grow to as much as 8 m in length and weigh more than 860 kg. They are named for the dark, vertical stripes found mainly on juveniles. As these sharks mature, the lines begin to fade and almost disappear. Females are ovoviviparous, meaning eggs are retained internally within a brood chamber where each embryo develops and receives nourishment from a yolk sac. The pups then hatch from egg capsules inside the mother’s uterus and incubate inside the mother before being born live. Females can give birth between 10-80 pups at one time. The large female shown above is currently incubating her pups as she searches for food. Tiger sharks are omnivores and consummate scavengers, with excellent senses of sight, smell, and even detection of electrical signals. They have sharp, highly serrated teeth and powerful jaws that allow them to crack the shells of sea turtles and clams.

Unfortunately, tiger sharks are regularly hunted for their fins, but also for their skin, flesh, and livers, which contain high levels of vitamin A that is processed into vitamin oil. Since they have extremely low reproduction rates, overfishing is a major threat to tiger shark populations. Juveniles are often caught unintentionally as bycatch, which is detrimental to their future generations. The decreasing population of tiger sharks has led the IUCN to list the species as near threatened. In an effort to better protect this species, scientists are now using data from satellite tags to better understand habitat use and the extent of migratory patterns. By doing so, protection of nursery areas and hunting grounds, such as Tiger Beach off the coast of Grand Bahama Island, can be implemented and passed into maritime law. (Photograph taken April 2019 by Chris Makowski, Coastal Education & Research Foundation – Journal of Coastal Research (CERF-JCR), Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.)

JCR Featured Topics

               Volume 37, Issue 3
                        May 2021

Rock Beauty Angelfish on Shark Bend Reef, Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

Rock Beauty Angelfish on Shark Bend Reef, Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S.A. The rock beauty angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor) is a fish species associated with clear, shallow reef habitats of the tropical western Atlantic Ocean. It can be found from Bermuda to the Bahamas and from Florida down to southeastern Brazil. Their diet consists mainly of sponges, but they have been known to occasionally feed on planktonic animals, small invertebrates, coral, tunicates, algae, and even mucus secreted from other fish. It has a flat, oval black body with trailing black dorsal and anal fins (with yellow and orange margins), a yellow tail, and a yellow face with a black mouth. The juvenile is almost completely yellow, with a black spot on either side that grows slowly to cover most of its body. The lobes of the dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins produce into long filaments as the fish ages. Identification of the rock beauty is based upon the distinctive coloration rather than body morphology. They are most commonly harvested for the aquarium trade, even though their specific diets and territoriality make them a difficult species to keep in captivity.

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