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Update from the nursehound world: a major breeding site discovered!

By Eleonora de Sabata, 27th November 2013

Apols for being quiet for some time, but these past few months have been quite hectic and full of new discoveries in the world of the nursehound – a largish and rather elusive shark living in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean which we are studying with the help of scuba divers.
Divers that see this shark’s eggs – which are large, white and are fastened on seafans and sponges – are reporting their numbers and location to us, and we pool this info to map some of this sharks’ breeding sites around Italy.
Thanks to our citizen scientists – divers – we have identified several breeding grounds, concentrated in isolated hotspots in most Italian coastal regions. An average of 1-2 egg-cases were reported per dive site, while numbers and locations increase approaching theGulf of Naples and surrounding archipelagos. This is critical information for this little-known species, which IUCN believes may qualify for Vulnerable status in the near future.
Divers also helped us identify a major breeding ground: the Santa Croce Bank, a protected area within the Gulf of Naples, where we could find large numbers (exceeding 100+) of egg-cases, containing embryos at all stages of development. Live specimen are also regularly seen on the same dive site, mostly resting in crevices.
Once we discovered this amazing dive site – which even without such an abundance of eggs is in its own right one of the most fantatic dive sites in the whole Mediterranean! – we organized a preliminary study, which we’ll tell you about in the next post. Stay tuned!

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