The present study was undertaken to assess the diversity and abundance of elasmobranch fishes in coral reef and sand flat environments on the eastern Caicos Bank, with a view to informing marine spatial planning as the island of South Caicos and its environs transition to a tourism-based economy. Using baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS), the nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum, Caribbean reef shark Carcharhinus perezi, spotted eagle ray Aetobatus narinari, southern stingray Hypanus americanus, lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris, tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier, blacknose shark Carcharhinus acronotus, and great hammerhead shark Sphyrna mokarran were observed to use these waters, with G. cirratum and C. perezi being particularly abundant. Species diversity and overall abundance was greater in the reef environment than on the sand flats, but G. cirratum was equally abundant in both environments. Furthermore, even reef-associated species such as C. perezi were occasionally encountered on the flats a considerable distance from the reef. This indicates that although marine conservation efforts in the Turks and Caicos Islands should continue to focus on coral reef areas, less dramatic environments such as sand flats should not be ignored.
- Caribbean region
- Coral reef
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science