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Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

Galeocerdo Cuvier

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The dorsal surfaces of juveniles are covered with dark blotches on bluish- or greenish-gray to black background. The blotches fuse to form tigerlike vertical bars or stripes as the shark grows. The coloration fades to gray and the stripes become less distinct in adults. The snout is blunt and wide and is much shorter than the width of the mouth. There are long labial furrows around the corners of the mouth, reaching to the eyes. The teeth are serrated with deep notches on the outer margins, and are similar in both jaws. The interdorsal ridge is low.

Size: Up to about 18 feet

Age at Maturity: Males reach sexual maturity at 7-9 ft, while females become mature at 8-10 ft.

Range: Cape Cod to Uruguay, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea

Habitat: Coastal water close inshore to the outer continental shelf and offshore, including oceanic island groups.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Heaviest sporting outfits required for adults.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Small ones are good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks , except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish

Squalus acanthias

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The Dorsal fins are both preceded by a single spine and the anal fin is absent. The color is slate-gray or brownish-gray above and pale gray to white below and the body is scattered with small white spots. The interdorsal ridge is weak. .

Size: Up to about 4½ feet

Age at Maturity: Females reach maturity at 12 years of age and from 29.9-30.1 inches in length, while most males mature at 6 years and about 23.6 inches in length.

Range: Greenland to Florida and Cuba but it is uncommon south of North Carolina.

Habitat: Coastal and offshore. Found in surface waters to 3,000 ft. and is usually near the bottom in waters between 43 and 52°F.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Light gear works well such as spinning and baitcasting outfits.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Very good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 (This is 1 fish limit from the small shark composite (SSC) which includes Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish)

Minimum size: 30″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Spinner Shark

Spinner Shark

Carcharhinus brevipinna

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The anal, first and second dorsal, pectoral and lower caudal fins are black-tipped (look as if they were dipped in jet black paint). The first dorsal fin is fairly small, originating over or just behind the free tips of the pectoral fins and the apex is rounded. The snout is pointed and is as long as or longer than the width of the mouth. It is gray or bronze above with a light conspicuous wedge-shaped band or Z-shaped line on the sides beginning near the pectoral fins and gradually widening rearward to the pelvic fins to merge with the white on the belly. It has no interdorsal ridge.

Size: Up to around 9 feet

Age at Maturity: Female spinner sharks mature at 5.6-6.6 feet (TL) and males mature at 5.2-6.7 feet (TL).

Range: Virginia to Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico and possibly into the Caribbean.

Habitat: Coastal waters and offshore, common in shallow waters less than 100 feet.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Live baitfish such as Pilchards, fresh cut baits. Light ocean gear and medium to heavy spinning tackle.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, casting, drifting

Food Value: Very good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks, except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Atlantic Sharpnose

Atlantic Sharpnose

Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Dorsal surfaces brownish-gray with scattered white spots in adults, white below; dorsal and caudal fins black-edged in juveniles. Second dorsal fin originating over or behind midpoint of anal fin. Mouth with long labial furrows around corners, not interdorsal ridge.

Size: Small shark of usually less than 4 feet.

Age at Maturity: Males: between 2 and 2.4 years of age; Females: between 33.5-35.5 inches

Range: New Jersey to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, will also stray as far north as New Brunswick, Canada

Habitat: Sticks to coastal waters but has been found at depths of around 920 ft. Often close to surf zone or in enclosed bays, sounds harbors, marine to brackish estuaries.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Small live or dead baitfish or cut bait on light tackle with a wire leader.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Very good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 (This is 1 fish limit from the small shark composite (SSC) which includes Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish)

Minimum size: 30″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Scalloped Hammerhead

Scalloped Hammerhead

Sphyrna lewini

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The head is broadly arched and hammer-shaped, marked by prominent indentations at the mid-line (“scalloped”). The pelvic fins have straight rear margins. Its color is deep olive to brownish-gray above, shading to white below and has no interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can be up to about 12 feet

Age at Maturity: Males reach maturity at lengths of 5.9 feet total length, females mature at 8.2 feet total length

Range: Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Habitat: Coastal and offshore, primarily in water warmer than 72°F in coastal bays and surfaces waters to at least 900 feet.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Live or fresh-dead baitfish with light tackle

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks, except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 78″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Sandbar Shark

Sandbar Shark

Carcharhinus plumbeus
Sand Shark, Brown Shark

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The first dorsal fin is large, triangular, and originates over or slightly before the pectoral insertion. The pectoral fins are large and broad. It has a snout that is shorter than the width of the mouth. The color is brownish-gray or brown above and white below. It does have an interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can get up to about 8 feet.

Age at Maturity: Males reach maturity between 4-5½ ft while females mature at 4½-5½ ft.

Range: From Cape Cod to Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Habitat: Inshore shallow coastal waters, including bays, harbors, and estuaries; typically in waters from 5-180 ft deep but can be found offshore occasionally to possibly 810 ft. They are bottom dwelling.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Fresh, dead fish or stingray wings make good bait. Heavy spinning and baitcasting, surf rods, light to medium ocean gear can all be used.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: No Harvest

Federal Regulation

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Sand Tiger

Sand Tiger

Carcharias taurus

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Its first dorsal fin is far back on the body, closer to the pelvic fins than to the pectoral fins. The first and second dorsal and anal fins are nearly equal in size. A flattened snout with long mouth extending behind the eyes and large teeth that are needlelike, protruding from the mouth with 1-2 small cusplets. They are gray to light brown color above, grayish white below, often with brownish spots scattered on the body. Juveniles have yellowish-brown spots. No interdorsal ridge.

Size: Up to around 10½ feet

Age at Maturity: Male maturity is reached at 6.3 feet at four to five years of age. Female maturity is reached at six years or over 7.2 feet in total length.

Range: Gulf of Maine to Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Habitat: Coastal; found from the surf zone and shallow bays to the outer shelves and are generally bottom dwelling.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Live or dead natural baits as well as artificials. Spinning, baitcasting, as well as fly outfits also work. This species is protected and should be immediately released.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Because they are good to eat they are now protected and cannot be kept

State Regulation

Daily Limit: No Harvest

Federal Regulation

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Nurse Shark

Nurse Shark

Ginglymostoma cirratum

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The mouth is near the tip of the snout with conspicuous nasal barbells on each side; deep grooves connecting nostrils with the mouth. The first and second dorsal and anal fins are broadly rounded and the second dorsal fin is nearly as large as the first dorsal fin. The first dorsal fin originates well behind the pectoral fins and over or behind the origin of the pelvic fins. Caudal fins have no distinct lower lobe. It is dark brown to yellow-brown in color above, lighter brown below and occasionally with yellowish hues on the underside. Juveniles often have black spots. They have very small eyes and no interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can get up to about 9 feet

Age at Maturity: 7½ feet for females and 7 feet for males

Range: Rhode Island to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Rare north of Cape Hatteras

Habitat: Coastal; often in or close to coral reefs on or near the bottom; young in very shallow water; adults in progressively deeper water.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Cut bait of any kind but nothing artificial. Any kind of tackle except fly will work.

Fishing Method: Still fishing

Food Value: Excellent

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark

Negaprion brevirostris

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: First and second dorsal fins triangular, about equal in size. Yellowish-green, brown, or olive-gray color above, yellowish below. Has a blunt snout that is shorter than the width of the mouth and it has no interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can get up to about 10½ feet

Age at Maturity: Around 6-7 years

Range: New Jersey to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Uncommon north of Cape Hatteras

Habitat: Primarily coastal; common around coral keys, docks, bays, and estuaries; young frequent mangroves and grass flats.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Live or dead natural baits as well as artificials. Spinning, baitcasting, as well as fly outfits can all be used.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, casting, drifting

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks , except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Dusky Shark

Dusky Shark

Carcharhinus obscurus

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: First dorsal fin sloping, originating over or slightly before free tips of pectoral fins. Second dorsal fin with free tip length rarely more than twice fin height. They are gray or bluish-gray above, white below and have and interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can get up to around 12 feet

Age at Maturity: Around 8½ feet

Range: Cape Cod and Georges Bank to Florida, also the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Habitat: Continental waters inshore to outer continental shelf and adjacent oceanic waters.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Fresh dead fish or a fresh chunk of cut bait works well. Medium to heavy ocean outfits are highly recommended.

Fishing Method: Drift, still fishing

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: No Harvest

Federal Regulation

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Bull Shark

Bull Shark

Carcharhinus leucas

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: First dorsal fin is large, triangular, rearward sloping, originating over or slightly behind pectoral insertion. Snout is much shorter than width of the mouth and bluntly rounded. It has small eyes and a stocky heavy body, especially in adults. The color is pale to dark gray above, white below and no interdorsal ridge.

Size: Can get to around 11½ feet

Age at Maturity: 10-18 years for females and 9-15 years for males (depends on location)

Range: New York to Brazil, including Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Rare north of Delaware.

Habitat: Primarily shallow coastal water; common in lagoons, bays, and river mouths; often enters far into fresh water.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Dead fish or cut bait with fresh-cut Barracuda being a favorite. Will take artificial baits if water is chummed, including large flies and topwater plugs. Spin, plug, and fly casters all can work but it is better suited to medium ocean outfits.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks , except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Bonnethead Shark

Bonnethead Shark

Sphyrna tiburo

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Head shovel-shaped, lacking indentation at midline, evenly rounded between eyes. Back and sides often with scattered small black spots. Color gray, tan, or greenish above, paler below. No interdorsal ridge.

Size: Averages 2-5 pounds, can get to about 5 feet.

Age at Maturity: Around 3 feet

Range: : North Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Rare to Rhode Island.

Habitat: Warm shallow waters along muddy or sandy bottoms, coral reefs, and grass flats. Also found in bays and deep channels and estuaries.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Small live fish or cut bait on light spinning and baitcasting gear

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 (This is 1 fish limit from the small shark composite (SSC) which includes Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish)

Minimum size: 30″ FL

Federal Regulation

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Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Shark

Carcharhinus limbatus

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The first and second dorsal fins, pectoral fins, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin are black-tipped (black markings may fade in adults and may be indistinct in juveniles) and the anal fin is white. The first dorsal fin is fairly large with a short free tip, originating slightly over or behind the insertion of the pectoral fins along the inner margin and the apex is pointed.

Size: Up to about 6½ feet

Age at Maturity: 36-39 inches total length (TL) and 38-44 inches (TL) for males and females respectively

Range: Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is rare north of Delaware.

Habitat: Shallow coastal and continental shelf waters and the surface offshore. They are common near river mouths, bays and estuaries.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Fresh cut bait and artificial lures including topwater plugs, flyrod poppers, large streamer flies, slow-swimming jigs, and underwater plugs. Spinning and baitcasting outfits and fly outfits work well for these small sharks.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, casting, drifting

Food Value: Very good

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 1 per angler or boat, which ever is less (This is a composite regulation grouping all sharks , except Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, and Spiny dogfish, into this 1 per angler or boat limit. This does not include the sharks prohibited from harvest. If you are unsure of the species and whether you can keep it, release it) For more information see the federal regulations.

Minimum size: 54″ FL

Federal Regulation

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White Grunt

White Grunt

Haemulon plumieri

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The white grunt is silver-gray, with numerous blue and yellow stripes on the body and head. On some individuals the scales are tipped with bronze. The pectoral fins are chalky and the other fins are gray. The lining of the body cavity, or peritoneum, is black.

Size: Around 8-10 inches

Age at Maturity: Around 8-10 inches

Range: New Jersey to South Florida and Bermuda

Habitat: Hard or rocky bottom with scattered coral or shell from near shore to up to 100 ft. depth.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Cut baits or small jigs on spinning, plug casting, or light ocean rigs.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Very good as either a panfish or sometimes as a filet

State Regulation

Daily Limit: Federal Regulations Apply

Federal Regulation

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Vermillion Snapper

Vermillion Snapper

Rhomboplites aurorubens
Beeliner

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Color of entire body reddish, with diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line; sometimes with yellow streaks below the lateral line; large canine teeth absent; anal fin is rounded; orientation of mouth and eye give it the appearance of looking upward; no dark lateral spot.

Size: Usually less than one pound

Age at Maturity: All vermilion snapper are mature at 2 years of age and 7.9″ total length

Range: Cape Hatteras to Central Florida, also Bermuda

Habitat: Found in moderately deep waters, most common over rock, gravel or sand bottoms near the edge of the continental and island shelves. Young fish occur in shallower depths (below 25 m). Often form large schools, particularly the young.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Heavier weights are needed to get down to depth but smaller hooks should be used than those for other snapper or grouper. Spinning and baitcasting tackle are better but often cannot get down to depth. Any small dead bait works well including cut fish, squid, and shrimp.

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Excellent panfish

State Regulation

Daily Limit: Federal Regulations Apply

Federal Regulation

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Tomtate

Tomtate

Haemulon aurolineatum
Grunt

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Silver white all over with a yellow-brown stripe running the length of the body and ending as a black blotch at the base of the caudal fin. The inside of its mouth is bright red.

Size: Usually about 6 inches

Age at Maturity: Females may mature when as small as 5.5 inches and males as small as 6.5 inches

Range: Cape Hatteras to South Florida and Bermuda, also can range up to Cape Cod

Habitat: Mostly offshore north of Central Florida. In Florida and the Bahamas they will be inshore in patches and around offshore reefs.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: The lightest spinning tackle with pieces of shrimp and cut fish or squid

Fishing Method: Still fishing

Food Value: Good panfish

State Regulation

Daily Limit: Federal Regulations Apply

Federal Regulation

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Spottail Pinfish

Spottail Pinfish

Diplodus holbrookii
Spottail Porgy

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Large black patch on caudal peduncle. More round than the pinfish in overall shape. Color is brown above shading to silvery below. Has a very dark lateral line.

Size: Usually around a pound and 6-8 inches

Age at Maturity:

Range: Florida to New Jersey

Habitat: Inhabits shallow coastal waters, including bays and harbors. Occurs in inshore seagrass beds. Prefers flat vegetated bottoms. Rarely found in brackish water.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Light spinning tackle with cut shrimp, squid, or fish

Fishing Method: Still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Fairly good but a lot of bones

Scamp

Scamp

Mycteroperca phenax
Brown Grouper, Broomtail

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Related to the gag and other slender-bodied groupers, the scamp are identified by their pronounced anal and soft dorsal ray extensions, a more concave profile of the head, and by color. Light gray or brown; large adults with elongated caudal-fin rays; reddish brown spots on sides that tend to be grouped into lines; some yellow around corners of mouth.

Size: Usually under 10 pounds

Age at Maturity: Mature at the age of 3 years; undergoes sex transformation from female to male as it becomes older.

Range: Florida to Cape Hatteras, sometimes up to Cape Coda

Habitat: Inhabits continental shelf waters. Although the species occasionally congregates over high-profile bottom, such as wrecks and rock outcroppings, the preferred habitat is low profile, live bottom areas in waters 75-300 feet deep. These areas are characterized by profuse growths of soft corals and sponges.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Deeper waters will require more weight and a rod to handle it. When possible though, use spinning and baitcasting gear. Leadhead jigs, either bare or with live or dead baitfish work well. Scamp will eat any kind of small live baitfish, as well as shrimp, squid, and cut baits.

Fishing Method: Drifting, still fishing, trolling

Food Value: Excellent

State Regulation

Daily Limit: Federal Regulations Apply

Federal Regulation

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Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Lutjanus campechanus
Genuine Red Snapper

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: Bright rosy red on top, deepening as the fish grows larger, fading to silver on belly. The canine teeth are present but less prominent than those of the Gray or Mutton Snapper. The eye is red and the anal fin triangular, long triangular snout.

Size: Common up to 10 pounds

Age at Maturity: By 2 years

Range: Central Florida to Cape Hatteras but can be found south to South Florida or north to New Jersey

Habitat: Adults are found over rocky bottoms offshore in waters 100-200 feet. Juveniles inhabit shallow waters, common over sand or muddy bottoms.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Dead minnows or Pilchards or cut fish and squid will sometimes work but more often, live small baitfish are needed. In shallower waters light ocean tackle of heavy spinning and baitcasting tackle will be fine but in deeper waters, very heavy rods with strong lines of 50-80 pound test are needed.

Fishing Method: Casting, still fishing, drifting

Food Value: Excellent

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 2

Minimum size: 20″ TL

Federal Regulation

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Red Porgy

Red Porgy

Pagrus pagrus
Pink Porgy, Pinky

Life History

Description and Diagnostic Characteristics: The red porgy has a silvery-red body. There may be many tiny blue spots. If a specimen is available, this species can be identified clearly by the presence of a round rear nostril; this nostril is slit-like in other porgies.

Size: Around 2-3 pounds

Age at Maturity: Protogynous hermaphrodites: All females greater than 302 mm TL and age 4 are mature, males around 345.5 mm TL and 5.3 years

Range: Florida to New York, but will venture farther north

Habitat: Offshore water to 500 feet deep or more. In South Florida they stick to the deepest habitat. From North Florida to the Mid-Atlantic states, however, they are common in about 50 to 150 feet of water.

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: Cut baits on heavy bottom rigs

Fishing Method: Drifting

Food Value: Excellent

State Regulation

Daily Limit: 3

Minimum size: 14″ TL

Federal Regulation

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Marine Fishes of Georgia Posters

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