Harold “Wes” Pratt

Adjunct Scientist
Shark Ecology
Fisheries Science and Emerging Technologies (FSET) Program

T: 207 542 3496


B.S Marine Fisheries Biology, U. Mass, Amherst 1968


Wes Pratt is a retired NOAA scientist with a 50-year professional career studying the biology of sharks. While at NOAA, Wes first collaborated with NEAq in the late 1970’s, collecting repeated measurements and studying feeding habits in two of the Aquarium’s sandbar sharks as part of a larger study on age and growth in this species that was published in 1985. More recently, work with his colleagues Nick Whitney, Jeff Carrier and Theo Pratt in the Florida Keys since 1991 has resulted in cutting-edge research into the reproduction and mating behavior of the nurse shark.  Their efforts have revealed previously unknown and unexpected facets of complex behavior in these fascinating but poorly understood reef predators.

  1. Select Publications


    Pratt, Harold L., Theo C. Pratt, Danielle Morley, Susan Lowerre-Barbieri, Angela Collins, Jeffrey C. Carrier, Kristen M. Hart, and Nicholas M. Whitney. “Partial migration of the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum (Bonnaterre), from the Dry Tortugas Islands.” Environmental Biology of Fishes (2018): 1-16.


    Curtis, T.H., McCandless, C.T., Carlson, J.K., Skomal, G.B., Kohler, N.E., Natanson, L.J., Burgess, G.H., Hoey, J.J. and Pratt Jr, H.L., 2014. Seasonal distribution and historic trends in abundance of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, in the western North Atlantic Ocean. PLoS One, 9(6), p.e99240.


    Hart, Kristen M., Autumn R. Sartain, Ikuko Fujisaki, Harold L. Pratt Jr, Danielle Morley, and Michael W. Feeley. “Home range, habitat use, and migrations of hawksbill turtles tracked from Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA.” Marine Ecology Progress Series 457 (2012): 193-208.


    Heist, E.J., Carrier, J.C., Pratt Jr, H.L. and Pratt, T.C., 2011. Exact enumeration of sires in the polyandrous nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum). Copeia, 2011(4), pp.539-544.


    Whitney, N.M., Pratt Jr, H.L., Pratt, T.C. and Carrier, J.C., 2010. Identifying shark mating behaviour using three-dimensional acceleration loggers. Endangered Species Research, 10, pp.71-82.


    Heithaus, M.R., Burkholder, D., Hueter, R.E., Heithaus, L.I., Pratt, Jr, H.L. and Carrier, J.C., 2007. Spatial and temporal variation in shark communities of the lower Florida Keys and evidence for historical population declines. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 64(10), pp.1302-1313.

    Pratt, H. L. Jr. and J.C. Carrier. 2007. Nurse Shark Breeding and Nursery Grounds in the Dry Tortugas (Florida). Waters In: McCandless, C. T., N. Kohler, H. L. Pratt, Jr.(Eds.) Shark Nursery Grounds of the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast waters of the United States. C. McCandless, N. Kohler, American Fisheries Society Book.

    McCandless C. T., H. L. Pratt, Jr., and R. R. Merson. 2007. Shark Nursery Areas in Delaware and New Jersey State Waters In: McCandless, C. T., N. Kohler, H. L. Pratt, Jr.(Eds.) Shark Nursery Grounds of the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast waters of the United States. C. McCandless, N. Kohler, American Fisheries Society Book.

    Pratt. H. L. Jr. (advisor and subject of). Holland, J. S. Photos by Brian Skerry. 2007 “An Eden for Sharks: Blue waters of the Bahamas”. National Geographic Magazine. Vol. 211 No. 3. March 2007

    Pratt, H. L. 2007. “Sharks and Man” A chapter in: “Encyclopedia of Human–Animal relationships”. (Ed.) Mark Bekoff, Greenwood Publishing. 3730pp


    Pratt, H. L. Jr., and J. C. Carrier. 2005. Elasmobranch Courtship and Mating Behavior, Chapter 5. pp129-169. In: Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes. B.G.M. Jamieson (Ed): Sharks, Skates, Stingrays and Chimaeras. W. C. Hamlett. (Ed.) Science Publishers, Enfield, N.H. & Plymouth, U.K. 562 pp.


    Carrier, J. C., H. L. Pratt, Jr. and J. I. Castro. 2004. Reproductive
    Biology of Elasmobranchs. IN: Biology of Sharks and Their Relatives.
    J.C. Carrier, J.L. Musick, and M.R. Heithaus (Eds.). CRC Press, LLC.
    Boca Raton, 596 p.

    Whitney, N. M., H. L. Pratt, Jr. and J. C. Carrier. 2004. Group mating behaviour, and siphon sac function in the whitetip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus. Anim Behaviour. Volume 68, Issue 6, December 2004, Pages 1435-1442.


    Pratt, H. L., Jr. & J. C. Carrier. 2001. A review of elasmobranch reproductive behavior with a case study on the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum. Env. Biol. Fish. 60:157-188.

    Merson, R.R., and H. L. Pratt, Jr. 2001. Distribution, movements and growth of young sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus, in the nursery grounds of Delaware Bay. Env. Biol. Fishes 61:13-24.

  2. Affiliations

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