Marine Biology

, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 699–716 | Cite as

The spatiotemporal dynamics of habitat use by blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus) and lemon (Negaprion brevirostris) sharks in nurseries of St. John, United States Virgin Islands

  • Bryan LegareEmail author
  • Jeff Kneebone
  • Bryan DeAngelis
  • Gregory Skomal
Original Paper


Shark nursery areas are widely regarded as essential habitats for the growth and survival of young individuals. The effective management and protection of shark nursery habitat are contingent upon a clear understanding of how individual species utilize such habitat both spatially and temporally. Although shark nurseries have been identified in the Caribbean, this information is generally lacking. From 2006 to 2012, we used passive acoustic telemetry to monitor the presence, movements, and habitat use of 65 juvenile blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) and 42 juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) within Fish Bay and Coral Bay, two shark nurseries in St. John, United States Virgin Islands. Both species were present in each bay during all months of the year, but abundance peaked during the summer (June–September). Although telemetry data indicated that blacktip and lemon sharks moved throughout each embayment, each species exhibited strong site fidelity to core areas across all years of the study. Habitat partitioning was observed in both nurseries as blacktip sharks generally occurred in areas characterized by water depths of 1.5–6 m with seagrass and sand/mud substrate, while lemon sharks remained in close proximity to or within shallow (<1 m), mangrove-fringed seagrass habitat. Blacktip sharks were also observed to exhibit greater activity space during the nighttime hours (1900–0659 h) within Coral Bay. The results of this study indicate that Fish Bay and Coral Bay are nursery areas that warrant designation as essential fish habitat and exemplify the need for additional focused management measures.


Site Fidelity Nursery Habitat Core Habitat Lemon Shark Essential Fish Habitat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by funding from grants from the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant (Project No. R-31-1-10), Peter and Carol Bouyoucos, and Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration. We thank Ron Hill and Jennifer Doerr (NMFS, Galveston, TX) for sharing equipment and data; Sharon Coldren and the Coral Bay Community Council for support and logistics; Phil Strenger (R/V GEV) for vessel time and local expertise; Maho Bay Camps, Inc. for housing; Randy Brown, Randy Fish, and Jamie Irving of the Virgin Islands Environmental Research Station for the use of their equipment and field logistics; Dr. Richard Nemeth (University of the Virgin Islands) and Dr. Simon Pittman (NOAA Biogeography Branch) for local support and data sharing; Ian Bouyoucos, Zach Whitener, and Clayton Pollock for field assistance. This is UVI Center for Marine and Environmental Studies Contribution Number 123 and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Contribution Number 54.

Supplementary material

227_2015_2616_MOESM1_ESM.docx (205 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 205 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan Legare
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jeff Kneebone
    • 3
  • Bryan DeAngelis
    • 4
  • Gregory Skomal
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Marine and Environmental ScienceUniversity of the Virgin IslandsSt ThomasU.S. Virgin Islands
  2. 2.Dickinson Marine LabTexas Parks and WildlifeDickinsonUSA
  3. 3.Massachusetts Marine FisheriesNew BedfordUSA
  4. 4.The Nature Conservancy, North America Oceans and CoastsURI Bay CampusNarragansettUSA

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