Sharks are some of the most majestic and misunderstood members of the animal kingdom. Simultaneously feared and revered among the general populace, sharks tend to get a bad rap. However, marine experts like John Clay Dickinson and Rachel McGinnis know there’s much more to these elusive creatures than a mighty bite. In an effort to learn more and educate others, John Dickinson of Palm Beach and his partner Rachel Janea McGinnis frequently study and document sharks in their natural habitat. While they’ve filmed reels of intriguing footage over the years, one of their best to date is that of nurse sharks mating in the wild, an event that had not before been captured on film.
Nurse sharks are native to the Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans and are often seen around Florida, particularly the Keys. Nocturnal creatures, they hunt at night and rest during daylight, typically hovering near the ocean floor, often in reefs or caves. They rarely migrate, which is one reason their mating habits are so unique. In order to avoid the repercussions of inbreeding, nurse sharks have more than one male fertilize a litter. Research indicates litters from one mother typically have DNA from at least four fathers.
However, idiosyncrasies don’t stop there, John Clay Dickinson said. When a male wants to mate, he bites the female’s pectoral fin to hold her in place. Females sometimes dodge this by swimming to shallow water and burying their pectoral fin in the sand.
The shark is also ovoviviparous, meaning the female carries the fertilized eggs in egg cases within her ovaries. The embryos are fed through the yolk in the cases. Once they’ve developed enough, after about six months, they hatch and are born. After a female produces a litter, it is another eighteen months before she can produce more eggs.
Documenting animal behavior, such as mating rituals, in the animals’ natural environment is key to gaining a better understanding of the species, John Dickinson of Palm Beach said. Furthermore, educating the public and sparking interest in marine life is essential to boost interest and investment in conservation.
More on Rachel McGinnis, John Dickinson of Palm Beach, and Florida Scuba Divers
Florida Scuba Divers is the area’s one-stop-shop for all things SCUBA. They sell a broad range of products, from dive suits to gear, and offer e-learning and certifications to divers of all levels from beginner to professional. Celebrating the shop’s one-year anniversary this month, John Clay Dickinson and Rachel McGinnis are proud to have served countless customers and inspired a love of SCUBA in numerous newcomers, in addition to sharing their extensive expertise with fellow seasoned divers. With a dedication to quality products, exceptional education, and stellar customer care, the shop had earned 132 well-earned five-star reviews from customers via Google Business Reviews as of December.
John Dickinson of Palm Beach, who began his military career at age 17 and retired from the US Air Force after 20 years of service, worked in medical recruiting for several years before dedicating himself to his true passions: marine exploration and conservation, full-time. He has owned two dive shops in Palm Beach County and was featured on Shark Week for his find of a population of Sawfish in the Northern Palm Beach area. He and partner Rachel McGinnis are looking forward to educating and inspiring more Florida tourists and residents about the ocean and its treasures in the years to come.
For more information about Florida Scuba Divers, visit the website: https://www.floridascubadivers.com/ or follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/floridascubadivers/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dive561.270.5788