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New College of Florida wins grant to study Tampa Bay shark population

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Restore America’s Estuaries have awarded a $165,111 grant to New College of Florida to fund shark research.

The research, which will be conducted by New College associate professor Jayne Gardiner, will assess population trends for Tampa Bay shark species, addressing data gaps that currently hinder conservation and management efforts.

“Juvenile sharks are a critical component of a healthy Tampa Bay ecosystem, but they’ve historically been overlooked in many monitoring programs," Gardiner said. "Young sharks of several species have been documented in lower Tampa Bay and our research will help us better understand the Bay’s potential role as a nursery ground.”

With a focus on blacktip, blacknose, bull and great hammerhead sharks in lower Tampa Bay, Gardiner will use long-term acoustic transmitters to discover the sharks’ nursery areas and study their habitat use.

The findings will help measure the impact of climate change and coastal development on the areas of the bay inhabited by these sharks.