Shark Nursery Grounds of the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast Waters of the United States

Early Life History of the Spinner Shark in a Florida Nursery

Craig W. Aubrey and Franklin F. Snelson, Jr.


Abstract.—A hook-and-line survey designed to sample young spinner sharks Carcharhinus brevipinna in the shallow inshore waters of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach on the east coast of Florida shows that the area served as a nursery for the species in 1997 and 1998. Neonates, born offshore in deeper water in May and June, moved into the study area shortly afterward and stayed throughout the warm summer months, departing in September or October. During this time, they grew from 57.5 to 67.5 cm in fork length (FL) and from 1.2 to 2.6 kg in weight. Young of the year were consistently larger in 1997 than in 1998. The sexes were recruited in equal numbers. Tag return data show that young of the year moved little during their first summer. Juveniles present in the study area for a limited period during the summer averaged 82 cm FL, and most were 1 year old. Their estimated growth was 23–24 cm FL in the first year.