Caribbean Reef Shark

The Caribbean Reef Shark is a top predator that spends its entire life in the atoll area, migrating seasonally (May) to feed on spawning snappers. For over 10 years, the population of Caribbean reef shark at Glover’s Reef has been monitored by a team led by Dr. Ellen Pikitch and Dr. Demian Chapman, both of Stony Brook University.  Long-line sampling of abundance takes place on an annual basis and the results are shared with the WCS Belize staff and the Belize Fisheries Department.  All sizes of Caribbean reef shark are found on the ocean reef outside the atoll; only juveniles, however, occur in the deep lagoon inside the atoll.  The researches have also been tagging sharks with dart tags, and a few with acoustic tags, to determine movement and use of the various atoll habitats.  Results have shown that the atoll is important as a breeding ground for this species. Specific threats include long line fishing and nets as well as all other threats to the health of the atoll.