A team of marine scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in partnership with the Mozambique National Institute for Fisheries Research (IIP) has confirmed that the Critically Endangered shorttail nurse shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum; formerly Ginglymostoma brevicaudatum) has been found to occur in Mozambique – extending their home range more than 1,367 miles (2,200 kilometers).
Known as southern Africa’s most threatened endemic shark, it is one of the smallest members of the family Ginglymostomatidae (nurse sharks) measuring no more than 30 inches (76.2 centimeters). A tropical reef species found in the Western Indian Ocean along the coast of Tanzania, Kenya, and Madagascar, their biology and ecology remain largely unknown. The new study, which is published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, shows the discovery was based on underwater video surveys collected in 2019, recent photos of shore-based sport anglers’ catches, and the identification of a specimen collected all the way back in 1967.
The researchers declared that these latest findings expand the range of the shorttail nurse shark southward by some 1,367 miles (2,200 kilometers) and 683 mi (1,100 km) westward from Madagascar across the Mozambique Channel. “Owing to its strong association with coral reefs, it is under particular threat from overexploitation by coastal fisheries and habitat degradation, and is suspected to have declined by more than 80 percent over the last 30 years,” the authors said in a statement, stressing that this shark was in urgent need of management due to their ‘Critically Endangered’ standing on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.