Gulf Coast Sharks: Ridgeback Sharks

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GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) – When you enter the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, you enter the home of thousands of marine species, including ridgeback sharks. Beachgoers have always known this, and sharks are frequently sighted all along the Gulf Coast, including this recent hammerhead shark sighting at Orange Beach, Ala.

But forget the Hollywood movie tropes: sharks pose little risk to swimmers. Since 1900, there have been about 1,600 “unprovoked” shark attacks in the United States, or about 13 per year, according to SharkAttackData.com.

The ridgeback shark species is the third of eight species News 5 will highlight throughout Labor Day weekend. Follow the WKRG Shark Week series on WKRG.com and on our Facebook.

To better understand the sharks that share the waters of the Gulf of Mexico with us, we invited Sean’s Powersdirector of the American School of Marine and Environmental Studies. Powers joined Caroline Carithers to tell us more about these fascinating inhabitants of the Gulf.

Read the full interview:

Caroline Carithers: Well, let’s talk about it here at WKRG News Five, and I’m here with Dr. Sean Powers. He is the director of the US School of Marine and Environmental Sciences. He is also a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. And he’s here to talk about all things shark and especially the sharks that are found in the Gulf of Mexico. So what shark are we talking about today?

CC: And here we go.

Sean’s Powers: To talk about a group of sharks called crestbacks.

CC: Ok, a group of sharks. And are they very common or not?

PS: These are going to be further offshore so they are sharks, kind of silky, dark. These sharks are not that common. They have been overfished for years because of their fins. The desirability of their fins for the shark fin. They will therefore be abroad. They are really slow to reproduce. They breed only every two years and make great coastal migrations.

PS: So most of your viewers, anglers will see them when they’re fishing for tuna and things like that so far from shore. But they will make sure to reduce these migrations.

CC: Interesting. So how big are they?

PS: So these will get about four or 500 pounds. 16 feet would be fine. Max for most of our in the ten foot range.

CC: OK. And what do they normally eat?

PS: So they will eat fish for the most part, big fish like tunas and hunts.

PS: Those big offshore fish.

PS: And that’s why they migrate. They hunt large numbers of pelagic fish.

CC: OK. So you mentioned that they’re so far from shore, that they’re not really a threat to swimmers, but to scuba divers who dive.

PS: Potentially they can be a little deeper than a normal depth for a diver. So they’re very, very cold fish, but they’re not really a threat.

PS: Not really a threat. OK. So generally speaking about sharks, I hear that some people eat sharks.

PS: And so some do not sharks are very popular. One of the reasons why they are not very popular is that they excrete urine through their tissues and skin. So they have a very high ammonia flavor, let’s face it. So you really have to do a lot of work to prep the shark before you say sharks. The makos and boneheads are absolutely delicious, but most aren’t very tasty.

CC: Interesting. Well, thanks to Dr. Sean Powers for joining us for the fifth WKRG News Shark Week.

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