Third Annual Long Island Natural History Conference















Sharks and Rays of the New York Seascape

Merry Camhi, PhD, Director, New York Seascape, Wildlife Conservation Society

Sharks are powerful icons of wild nature that capture the attention of the public and play an important role in the healthy function of marine ecosystems. As a group, however, they are also highly vulnerable to exploitation and suffer from severe levels of overfishing in all the world’s oceans, including here in the Mid Atlantic.  New York waters alone support more than 40 species of sharks and their close relatives the skates and rays.  In 2011, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists began studying sharks in the New York Bight, using acoustic and satellite telemetry to better understand their movements and site fidelity, and the importance of our local waters as nursery, foraging, and migratory habitat.  Preliminary findings from our current research on sand tiger sharks (inshore) and shortfin mako sharks and blue sharks (offshore) will be presented, as well as plans for a new citizen science initiative and Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit at the New York Aquarium.

Dr. Merry Camhi ( is the Director of WCS’s New York Seascape, a joint program of the New York Aquarium and the Global Marine Program. Launched in July 2010 as the first WCS seascape in North America, this initiative seeks to raise public awareness and take action to conserve threatened marine wildlife in the New York Bight, through conservation research, citizen science and education, and advocacy to improve management policies. Current New York Seascape projects include acoustic and satellite tagging of sharks to better understand their movements and habitat needs in the Mid Atlantic, monitoring and management of diadromous fish in the Bronx River, and a number of initiatives to build a local New York ocean constituency.

Merry has worked in marine conservation since receiving her Ph.D. in Ecology from Rutgers University, and then as a scientist and assistant director of Audubon’s Living Oceans Program, focusing on domestic and international conservation and management of large ocean fishes, and sharks in particular. She has been a member of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group since 1994, and previously served as Deputy Chair and co-editor of Shark News. In 2007, she was the Content Coordinator for the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibition Water: H20 = Life. Her most recent publications are a co-authored IUCN report The Conservation Status of Pelagic Sharks and Rays (2009), and the co-edited book Sharks of the Open Ocean (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).