The Cooperative Atlantic States Shark Pupping and Nursery (COASTSPAN) survey is an ongoing, multi-institutional investigation of known and putative shark nursery grounds along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The primary objectives of the COASTSPAN survey are to:
  1. Determine the location of shark nursery grounds along the U.S. East Coast, and use presence/absence data to describe their species composition and habitat preferences, and
  2. Gauge the relative abundance, distribution, and migration of sharks within nursery grounds through longline and gillnet sampling and mark-recapture data.

The VIMS component of the COASTSPAN survey focuses on the shark nursery grounds of Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's Eastern Shore.

COASTSPAN tagging data is managed by researchers at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). Other COASTSPAN collaborators are the:

  • University of North Florida
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, and
  • Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MADMF).

NEFSC staff conduct the survey in Narragansett and Delaware Bays. MADMF and NEFSC staff also conduct a survey in the U.S. Virgin Islands using COASTSPAN gear and methods. The COASTSPAN surveys in Delaware Bay, South Carolina, and Georgia have moved into the second phase, and these data produce standardized indices of abundance used in current shark stock assessments. All of these COASTSPAN collaborators, including VIMS, use very similiar botton longlines and gangions.