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Baylie Fadool

MASTERS STUDENT

Natural Resource Sciences

Contact: bayliefadool@biminisharklab.com

University of Nebraska-Lincoln in partnership with BBFSF and the Chicago Field Museum

I first came to the Shark Lab in January of 2021 as an intern and stayed on as the Media Manager and Outreach Coordinator until October 2023. I will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August 2024 to get my Masters in Natural Resource Sciences with an emphasis in Applied Ecology with Dr. Rene Martin. My research will focus on the population genetics of nurse sharks around Bimini and will be in collaboration with the Bimini Shark Lab and the Chicago Field Museum.

PROJECT DETAILS

Nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) are an abundant shallow, coastal water species found throughout Bimini, The Bahamas, and the Atlantic Ocean (Castro, 2000). However abundant, general data on this species is lacking outside of their reproductive behavior in the Florida Keys. They were only recently reassessed from data deficient to vulnerable (Carlson et al., 2021). No major works had previously been conducted on this species in Bimini or The Bahamas until 2024. Fadool et al. (2024) published an article on the age and growth of nurse sharks in Bimini. This work indicated that nurse sharks are large-bodied, slow-growing sharks that can reach ages of up to 43 years (Fadool et al., 2024).

 

From work on the reproductive behavior of nurse sharks in the Florida Keys, it has been found that they display mating site fidelity, exhibit polyandrous and polygynous mating systems and females have biennial reproduction (Pratt & Carrier, 2001; Ohta et al., 2002; Saville et al., 2002; Heist et al., 2011; Pratt et al., 2022). Nurse sharks being one of the most abundant species around Bimini and having data from them for over 30 years provides an ideal study system to investigate the population dynamics and parental lineages of nurse sharks in Bimini. Having a wealth of reproductive information, that is typically very difficult to assess for elasmobranchs, is important for implementing better protections for this species that has historically been considered a nuisance.

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Research Objectives

 

This research will investigate the importance of Bimini for nurse shark reproduction. The objectives of this work are to:

 

  1. use SNPs to examine fine-scale population genetics of nurse sharks,

  2. determine genetic relatedness in the population, and

  3. examine their movement patterns in the area.

 

Research Questions:

 

  1. Are there any parent-offspring pairs in the population? 

  2. Are nurse sharks born in Bimini contributing to the Bimini population at sexual maturity or do offspring migrate away? 

  3. Is Bimini a pupping or nursery grounds for nurse sharks?

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Conservation Importance

The IUCN recently downgraded nurse sharks to ‘vulnerable’ (Carlson et al., 2021), and research on their movements, site fidelity, and reproduction is necessary to better inform conservation biologists of their threat status. This project will give us more insight into reproduction in these large marine predators and provide essential information for making fisheries management and conservation decisions. Determining crucial information about the nurse shark population in Bimini using genetic techniques could define the importance of this area for nurse shark reproduction, which would be essential for ensuring their survival by better protecting this area from future development.

More Nurse Shark Research

Age and growth estimates for the nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) over 17 years in Bimini, The Bahamas by Baylie Fadool et al.

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