Faithful as a Mother Shark

A study published Dec. 5 in the journal Molecular Ecology reports that female lemon sharks are homebodies, returning year after year, decade after decade, to have their babies in the sheltered nurseries where they themselves were born — the mangrove-lined shallows of Bimini, the Bahamas.

Researchers say these sharks — so named for their yellowish skin — return not just to regional breeding grounds to give birth, but to their specific birthplaces, like salmon. As the mothers do, so do their offspring, for generation upon generation. This homing behavior, called “natal philopatry,” is also seen in seals and some sea turtles, but this is the first time it has been shown in sharks.

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