THE WARM SHALLOW WATERS OFF FLORIDA’S SOUTH COAST ARE “HOME” TO A “HOMEBODY” … THE NURSE SHARK.
THESE LARGE FISH ARE BOTTOM-FEEDERS, FORAGING … USUALLY AT NIGHT, AND CAN APPEAR RATHER SLUGGISH DURING THE DAY!
BUT MOST NURSE SHARKS EAT, SLEEP AND REPRODUCE IN ONE AREA THEIR WHOLE LIVES.
AND THAT CONSISTENCY HAS BROUGHT TWO SCIENTISTS BACK TO THIS SHALLOW COVE FOR MANY YEARS: JEFF CARRIER AND WES PRATT.
(SOT: Jeff Carrier / start at 2:35)
“First time we ever saw any of this activity was almost 25 years ago. I couldn’t tell exactly what I was looking at until I discovered that I was looking at two sharks, not one, and that they were mating.
s/ Jeff Carrier / Marine Biologist
JEFF AND WES ARE HERE, CONTINUING THE ONLY LONG TERM STUDY OF SHARK MATING IN THE WILD. THESE TWO SHARK VOYEURS HAVE BEEN UP CLOSE AND VERY PERSONAL WITH THEIR SUBJECTS…
… THE TEAM GETS THE CLOSE-UPS HERE IN THE LAGOON, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE?
HOW MUCH MATING OCCURS IN THE PLACES THEY CAN’T OBSERVE, IN THE VAST AREA OUTSIDE THE STUDY SITE? WELL … THAT’S A JOB FOR CRITTERCAM!
(SOT: Jeff 6:26)
“This is an animal that lives in deeper water, it’s long-lived. We can’t follow it. We can’t follow it, we don’t have the technology to do that. But Crittercam does.”
NURSE SHARKS MAY BE HOME-BODIES BUT SO FAR, THEY’RE NOT COOPERATING! IT’S BEEN A WEEK AND THE CREW HAS YET TO SEE A MATING EVENT…
(NATS: man shouting “tails up” / after 13:32)
BUT FINALLY, THEY SEE THE SIGNS THEY’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.
(SOT: Wes 15:01)
“These female sharks are choosy. They’re picky about which males mate with them. And when the wrong guy shows up, she shoals into water as deep as we’re in now so that he can’t get a hold of her fins, which is a vital first step.”
s/Wes Pratt / US National Marine Fisheries Service
BUT WHEN THE RIGHT MALE SHOWS UP, SHE ALLOWS HIM TO PUSH HER TO SLIGHTLY DEEPER WATER TO MATE.
(SOT: Wes 15:28)
“If the male can get a hold of that valuable pectoral fin – ‘cause they don’t have hands – he can then curve his body around the female and mate with her.”
(SOT: Wes Pratt ~ 19:27)
“I want to see mating events, I want to see, and I want to see, I’d love to see him travel around in here and continue on his way and if and when he goes outside to prove that hypothesis of deep water mating.”
MINUTES LATER, THE MALE SHARK HAS FOUND A FEMALE AND BEGINS THE PURSIUT… SHE MOVES QUICKLY OUT OF THE AREA THAT WES AND JEFF CAN STUDY… THEN SHE STOPS AND WAITS – SO DOES THE MALE.
THEN HE MAKES HIS MOVE… BITING HER FIN. THE FEMALE ARCHES HER BACK AND A WRESTLING MATCH BEGINS. THE MALE MAKES A TOTAL OF THREE ATTEMPTS TO MATE WITH HER, BUT HE’S UNSUCCESSFUL.
NOW WHAT? THE MALE MOVES INTO DEEPER WATER – ALONE! HE STOPS – AND SEEMS TO BE RESTING.
(SOT: Wes / ~ 22:45)
“Crittercam has shown us that for the males, maybe the deep water is the refuge—and it’s turning our thinking around and maybe even upside down.”
(Wes and jeff on beach / walking toward tower 22:58)
WES AND JEFF WILL BE BACK TO THESE WATERS AGAIN NEXT YEAR… TO DISCOVER MORE SECRETS ABOUT THIS REGAL SHARK.