When Life Gives You Lemons Sharks

An adult lemon shark. PHOTO CREDIT: Jillian Morris Brake

Lemon sharks are one of the most prevalent species in Bimini and they can be seen in all life stages from birth to adulthood here. Research done by the Bimini Biological Field Station (Sharklab) has shown that female lemon sharks born in Bimini come back to give birth to their own pups. I have been lucky enough to actually witness these amazing little creatures being born and it remains one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

They are born tail first, wriggling out and then fighting to break free of their umbilical cord. They have been in the womb for 10-to-12 months and once born they are entirely on their own. The female gets her pups as close to mangroves as possible, giving them the best chance to survive.

The mangroves act as a nursery area, providing critical habitat for juvenile conch, lobster, snapper and these little lemon sharks. They can seek refuge from larger predators and also find food. Believe it or not, juvenile lemon sharks have friends and can learn from each other. Yes, sharks can have friends and are intelligent! We often hear them described as mindless eating machines, but this is absolutely not the case.

Mangroves provide critical habit above and below the water. They are truly the heartbeat of the islands throughout the Bahamas. Protecting them means protecting the beautiful waters we know and love and all the animals that inhabit them.

To learn more about the research being done by the Sharklab check out www.biminisharklab.com.

Juvenile lemon shark in the mangroves of Bimini. PHOTO CREDIT: Jillian Morris Brake.