Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecology and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2023) | Viewed by 61627

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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, University of Cagliari, Via T. Fiorelli 1, 09126 Cagliari, Italy
Interests: cartilaginous fish; conservation biology and ecology; reproductive biology; macro and micro-anatomy; histology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Chondrichthyans (sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras) represent one of the oldest and most ecologically various vertebrate lineages. This group of predators occupy the top of aquatic food webs and play an important functional role in the control of coastal and oceanic ecosystem structure and function. However, nowadays, overfishing and habitat degradation are altering their populations leading to a worrisome decline of these species worldwide because of their low resilience. Moreover, data on the stock status of this important resource remain still poor or non-existent, which is due to a problematic taxonomy (e.g., misidentification issues).

In this Special Issue, we invite contributions that investigate the life histories of Chondrichthyans (e.g., reproduction, age and growth), trophic ecology, genetic information and updated data on their distribution in order to collect information that is helpful to develop conservation plans for these marine predators.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, species inhabiting coastal waters, transitional waters (e.g., freshwaters), oceans, deep seas, pelagic and bottom environments.

Dr. Martina Francesca Marongiu
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • cartilaginous fish
  • conservation biology and ecology
  • population genetics
  • management
  • oceans
  • shallow waters
  • deep sea
  • freshwaters

Published Papers (23 papers)

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Editorial

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2 pages, 185 KiB  
Editorial
Editorial: Sharks and Skates—Ecology, Distribution and Conservation
by Martina Francesca Marongiu
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2222; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132222 - 06 Jul 2023
Viewed by 885
Abstract
The class Chondrichthyes (sharks, rays and chimeras) is one of the three lineages of fishes and the most evolutionary distinct radiation of vertebrates [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

19 pages, 2350 KiB  
Article
To Be, or Not to Be: That Is the Hamletic Question of Cryptic Evolution in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Raja miraletus Species Complex
by Alice Ferrari, Valentina Crobe, Rita Cannas, Rob W. Leslie, Fabrizio Serena, Marco Stagioni, Filipe O. Costa, Daniel Golani, Farid Hemida, Diana Zaera-Perez, Letizia Sion, Pierluigi Carbonara, Fabio Fiorentino, Fausto Tinti and Alessia Cariani
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2139; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132139 - 28 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1313
Abstract
Despite a high species diversity, skates (Rajiformes) exhibit remarkably conservative morphology and ecology. Limited trait variations occur within and between species, and cryptic species have been reported among sister and non-sister taxa, suggesting that species complexes may be subject to stabilising selection. Three [...] Read more.
Despite a high species diversity, skates (Rajiformes) exhibit remarkably conservative morphology and ecology. Limited trait variations occur within and between species, and cryptic species have been reported among sister and non-sister taxa, suggesting that species complexes may be subject to stabilising selection. Three sibling species are currently recognised in the Raja miraletus complex: (i) R. miraletus occurring along the Portuguese and Mediterranean coasts, (ii) R. parva in the Central-Eastern Atlantic off West Africa and (iii) R. ocellifera in the Western Indian Ocean off South Africa. In the present study, the genetic variation at mitochondrial and nuclear markers was estimated in the species complex by analysing 323 individuals sampled across most of its geographical distribution area to test the hypothesis that restricted gene flow and genetic divergence within species reflect known climate and bio-oceanographic discontinuities. Our results support previous morphological studies and confirm the known taxonomic boundaries of the three recognised species. In addition, we identified multiple weakly differentiated clades in the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, at least two additional cryptic taxa off Senegal and Angola, a pronounced differentiation of ancient South African clades. The hidden genetic structure presented here may represent a valuable support to species’ conservation action plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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14 pages, 2006 KiB  
Article
Aggregative Behaviour of Spiny Butterfly Rays (Gymnura altavela, Linnaeus, 1758) in the Shallow Coastal Zones of Gran Canaria in the Eastern Central Atlantic
by Ana Espino-Ruano, Jose J. Castro, Airam Guerra-Marrero, Lorena Couce-Montero, Eva K. M. Meyers, Angelo Santana-del-Pino and David Jimenez-Alvarado
Animals 2023, 13(9), 1455; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091455 - 25 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1326
Abstract
The presence of spiny butterfly rays, Gymnura altavela, in waters less than 20 m deep off the Canary Islands shows marked seasonality, with relatively high abundances in the summer and autumn. Large aggregations of sometimes hundreds of individuals, primarily females, appear in [...] Read more.
The presence of spiny butterfly rays, Gymnura altavela, in waters less than 20 m deep off the Canary Islands shows marked seasonality, with relatively high abundances in the summer and autumn. Large aggregations of sometimes hundreds of individuals, primarily females, appear in specific shallow areas of the archipelago and seem to be associated with the seasonal variation in water temperature. This seasonal pattern of presence or absence in shallow areas suggests that spiny butterfly rays migrate into deeper waters or other unknown areas during the rest of the year. G. altavela shows sexual dimorphism; in our study, females were larger and more abundant than males, with a sex ratio of 1:18.9. The species’ estimated asymptotic length, L, was 183.75 cm and thus close to the common length reported for the species (200 cm). The von Bertalanffy growth constant (k) oscillated between 0.210 and 0.310 year−1, as similarly described for the species in the Western North Atlantic off the U.S. coast. From June to November, the seawater temperature oscillated between 19 and 24 °C, and massive aggregations of females occurred at 22–24 °C and in a few specific sandy beaches on the islands. Spiny butterfly rays, mostly females, show a preference for aggregating in shallow waters during summertime, probably conditionate to mating or breeding behaviour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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22 pages, 7928 KiB  
Article
Advancing DNA Barcoding to Elucidate Elasmobranch Biodiversity in Malaysian Waters
by Kar-Hoe Loh, Kean-Chong Lim, Amy Yee-Hui Then, Serena Adam, Amanda Jhu-Xhin Leung, Wenjia Hu, Chui Wei Bong, Aijun Wang, Ahemad Sade, Jamil Musel and Jianguo Du
Animals 2023, 13(6), 1002; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13061002 - 09 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3146
Abstract
The data provided in this article are partial fragments of the Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 mitochondrial gene (CO1) sequences of 175 tissues sampled from sharks and batoids collected from Malaysian waters, from June 2015 to June 2022. The barcoding was done randomly [...] Read more.
The data provided in this article are partial fragments of the Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 mitochondrial gene (CO1) sequences of 175 tissues sampled from sharks and batoids collected from Malaysian waters, from June 2015 to June 2022. The barcoding was done randomly for six specimens from each species, so as to authenticate the code. We generated barcodes for 67 different species in 20 families and 11 orders. DNA was extracted from the tissue samples following the Chelex protocols and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using the barcoding universal primers FishF2 and FishR2. A total of 654 base pairs (bp) of barcode CO1 gene from 175 samples were sequenced and analysed. The genetic sequences were blasted into the NCBI GenBank and Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD). A review of the blast search confirmed that there were 68 valid species of sharks and batoids that occurred in Malaysian waters. We provided the data of the COI gene mid-point rooting phylogenetic relation trees and analysed the genetic distances among infra-class and order, intra-species, inter-specific, inter-genus, inter-familiar, and inter-order. We confirmed the addition of Squalus edmundsi, Carcharhinus amboinensis, Alopias superciliosus, and Myliobatis hamlyni as new records for Malaysia. The establishment of a comprehensive CO1 database for sharks and batoids will help facilitate the rapid monitoring and assessment of elasmobranch fisheries using environmental DNA methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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10 pages, 2153 KiB  
Article
Distribution and New Records of the Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, Hexanchus griseus (Hexanchiformes: Hexanchidae), from the Tropical Southwestern Atlantic
by Jones Santander-Neto, Getulio Rincon, Bruno Jucá-Queiroz, Vanessa Paes da Cruz and Rosângela Lessa
Animals 2023, 13(1), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010091 - 26 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
The bluntnose sixgill shark, Hexanchus griseus, is a widely distributed demersal species found in tropical and temperate waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, inhabiting continental shelves and slopes, islands, and mid-ocean ridges at depths ranging from 200 to 1100 m. [...] Read more.
The bluntnose sixgill shark, Hexanchus griseus, is a widely distributed demersal species found in tropical and temperate waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, inhabiting continental shelves and slopes, islands, and mid-ocean ridges at depths ranging from 200 to 1100 m. In the Southwestern Atlantic, this species has been recorded from northeastern to southern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Despite this, the known distribution of this species in the Southwestern Atlantic is very patchy and, in some cases, still mostly ignored in the literature, such as in northeastern Brazil. This study, therefore, aimed to report 23 new records of Hexanchus griseus in the Tropical Southwestern Atlantic and highlight the presence of this species off the northeastern Brazilian coast. So far, Hexanchus griseus was officially reported from the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, and the state of Ceará along the northeast coast of Brazil. Herein, the known distribution is extended to the continental shelf breaks and upper slopes of other Brazilian states, reinforcing the previously reported occurrence of the species near the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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12 pages, 1314 KiB  
Article
From Extermination to Conservation: Historical Records of Shark Presence during the Early and Development Phase of the Greek Fishery
by Dimitrios K. Moutopoulos, Evridiki Lazari, George Katselis and Ioannis Giovos
Animals 2022, 12(24), 3575; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12243575 - 17 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3154
Abstract
The lack of historical data on shark presence, distribution, and status in the Eastern Mediterranean undermines efforts to manage and protect their populations. An exhaustive review of anecdotal references related to shark presence during the early and development phase of Greek fisheries (1883–1983) [...] Read more.
The lack of historical data on shark presence, distribution, and status in the Eastern Mediterranean undermines efforts to manage and protect their populations. An exhaustive review of anecdotal references related to shark presence during the early and development phase of Greek fisheries (1883–1983) was conducted. In the early-20th century (1912), the first sighting of the presence of a dead shark was reported in the Ionian Sea. Later on, the presence of sharks gradually increased up to 1969, with most records being more frequent for the Aegean Sea, whereas the number of sharks being sighted declined leading up to the middle of 1980s. The increase in shark attacks during the mid-20th century led to a calling for culling of sharks in co-operation with the competent authorities promoting the permission to hunt sharks with firearms and offering rewards for killed individuals. A high number of these observations potentially resulted from shark attacks on people, whereas this is not currently evident. This is an indicator of the lower abundance of sharks in modern times and subsequently an alteration in the way that our current modern society is approaching the protection of such vulnerable species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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25 pages, 9795 KiB  
Article
The Aleutians and Beyond: Distribution, Size Composition, and Catch Dynamics of the Aleutian Skate Bathyraja aleutica across the North Pacific
by Igor V. Grigorov, Kirill K. Kivva and Alexei M. Orlov
Animals 2022, 12(24), 3507; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12243507 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
The results of long-term (1948–2021) studies on the spatial and vertical distribution, dynamics of abundance, and size composition of the Aleutian skate Bathyraja aleutica in the North Pacific Ocean are presented. Maximum densities of this species were characteristic of the eastern Bering Sea [...] Read more.
The results of long-term (1948–2021) studies on the spatial and vertical distribution, dynamics of abundance, and size composition of the Aleutian skate Bathyraja aleutica in the North Pacific Ocean are presented. Maximum densities of this species were characteristic of the eastern Bering Sea slope, off the central Aleutian Islands, consisting of the Pacific waters off southeastern Kamchatka and the northern Kurils, and northeastern Sakhalin. This species was most abundant at depths of 100–600 m; in the cold months, B. aleutica migrates to greater depths for over-wintering, and in warm months it feeds at shallower depths. Bathyraja aleutica was most common at the bottom, at temperatures around 3 °C. The total length of individuals ranged from 9.6–170 cm, with a predominance of skates with a length of 50–100 cm. Males did not differ significantly from females in body weight and length. The maximum values of the condition factor were typical for the autumn–winter period. Across years, there was an increase in Aleutian skate catch rates from the western Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, and a decrease in the Pacific waters off the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka, as well as in Alaskan waters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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28 pages, 10797 KiB  
Article
Long-Term Changes in the Distribution and Abundance of Nine Deep-Water Skates (Arhynchobatidae: Rajiformes: Chondrichthyes) in the Northwestern Pacific
by Alexei M. Orlov and Igor V. Volvenko
Animals 2022, 12(24), 3485; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12243485 - 09 Dec 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1032
Abstract
Based on the analysis of long-term data from bottom trawl surveys (1977–2021), changes in the spatial distribution, position of the boundaries of the ranges and the catch rates of the nine most common deep-sea skates of the genus Bathyraja in the Russian waters [...] Read more.
Based on the analysis of long-term data from bottom trawl surveys (1977–2021), changes in the spatial distribution, position of the boundaries of the ranges and the catch rates of the nine most common deep-sea skates of the genus Bathyraja in the Russian waters of the Northwestern Pacific (B. violacea, B. aleutica, B. matsubarai, B. maculata, B. bergi, B. taranetzi, B. minispinosa, B. interrupta, and B. isotrachys) are considered. During the surveyed period, significant changes in the spatial distribution were observed, which are probably due to both subjective reasons (changes in the number of trawling stations, surveyed depths, etc.) and climatic changes. No monotonous displacement of the northern or southern boundaries of the range or its center in one direction was observed in any area of any species during the entire observation period. At the same time, shifts in the boundaries of the ranges of different species in different areas occurred for different decades, i.e., the boundaries of the ranges slowly fluctuated or “pulsed” near some average annual position. In general, from the 1970s to the 1980s, the number of skates grew; from the 1980s to the 1990s, it decreased; from the 1990s to the 2000s, it fluctuated at the achieved level; from the 2000s to the 2010s, it grew again; and from the 2010s to the 2020s, it decreased again. These trends coincide with previously identified ecosystem rearrangements under the influence of climatic and oceanological changes. The identification of links between changes in spatial distribution, range boundaries and catch rates with climatic and oceanological factors require separate additional studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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14 pages, 2982 KiB  
Article
Growth Characteristics of Long-Nosed Skate Dipturus oxyrinchus (Linnaeus, 1758) Inhabiting the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea
by Nuri Başusta and Fatih Volkan Ozel
Animals 2022, 12(23), 3443; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12233443 - 06 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1340
Abstract
This study aims to determine the age and growth characteristics of Dipturus oxyrinchus living in the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea and to present data that can provide a comparison with previous studies on the same subject. A total of 255 long-nose skates at a [...] Read more.
This study aims to determine the age and growth characteristics of Dipturus oxyrinchus living in the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea and to present data that can provide a comparison with previous studies on the same subject. A total of 255 long-nose skates at a total length of 12.2–93.5 cm and weight of 8.34–3828 g were collected as non-target species from a commercial fishing boat. The male−female ratio was determined as 1:1.27. Using the von Bertalanffy equation and the Gompertz or logistic growth models, the growth parameters of Dipturus oxyrinchus were estimated as L∞ = 154.0, K = 0.064, t0 = −1.622; L∞ = 104.0, K = 0.35, I = 4.99; L∞ = 128.40, K = 0.19, I = 4.39 for all individuals, respectively. Maximum absolute growth was calculated as 9.33 cm at 5–6 years of age. Maximum relative growth at 1–2 years of age was estimated as 36.39%. Both absolute and relative growth were minimal in the 11–12 age group. The highest condition factor value was estimated as 0.416 in the 8-year-old group. As a result, the growth data of long-nose skates were obtained for the first time in the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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12 pages, 5097 KiB  
Article
Courtship and Reproduction of the Whitetip Reef Shark Triaenodon obesus (Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae) in an Ex Situ Environment, with a Description of the Late Embryonic Developmental Stage
by Sérgio Ricardo Santos, Veronica Takatsuka, Shayra P. Bonatelli, Nicole L. L. Amaral, Matheus F. Goés and Rafael F. Valle
Animals 2022, 12(23), 3291; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12233291 - 25 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1729
Abstract
Elasmobranchs represent a group of species under considerable anthropic pressure because of the scale of industrial and artisanal fisheries and the loss of essential areas for nursery and feeding, which are causing substantial population losses around the world. Reproduction in an ex situ [...] Read more.
Elasmobranchs represent a group of species under considerable anthropic pressure because of the scale of industrial and artisanal fisheries and the loss of essential areas for nursery and feeding, which are causing substantial population losses around the world. Reproduction in an ex situ environment enables a healthy population to be built and maintained in networks of public aquariums, increasing our knowledge of elasmobranch reproductive biology and offering the opportunity for reintroductions in areas where native populations have been removed. The study reports two successful pregnancies of the whitetip reef shark Triaenodon obesus, considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Copulation and gestation data are provided, including ultrasound recordings of the late stage of embryo development. Ultrasonography was performed with the GE Logiq and convex transducer and revealed a fetus with defined fins and organogenesis, with definition of eyes, gills, liver, a heart with individualized chambers, partially defined kidneys, and a well-defined spiral intestine. A cartilaginous skeleton forming a posterior acoustic shadow was detailed, as well as a moving fetus with a biparietal diameter of 6.47 cm and a heart rate of 62 Beats Per Minute on spectral Doppler. This is the first successful reproduction of T. obesus in an aquarium in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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13 pages, 692 KiB  
Article
Influence of Environmental Factors on Prey Discrimination of Bait-Attracted White Sharks from Gansbaai, South Africa
by Francesca Romana Reinero, Emilio Sperone, Gianni Giglio, Antonio Pacifico, Makenna Mahrer and Primo Micarelli
Animals 2022, 12(23), 3276; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12233276 - 24 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2707
Abstract
The influence of environmental factors on prey discrimination of bait-attracted white sharks was studied over a six-year period (2008–2013) at Dyer Island Nature Reserve (Gansbaai, South Africa). Across 240 bait-attracted feeding events observed in this period, both immature and mature white sharks were [...] Read more.
The influence of environmental factors on prey discrimination of bait-attracted white sharks was studied over a six-year period (2008–2013) at Dyer Island Nature Reserve (Gansbaai, South Africa). Across 240 bait-attracted feeding events observed in this period, both immature and mature white sharks were attracted by the seal-shaped decoy rather than the tuna bait, except for the years 2008 and 2011. Tide ranges, underwater visibility, water temperature, and sea conditions were, in decreasing order, the factors which drove white sharks to select the seal-shaped decoy. High tide lowered the minimum depth from which sharks could approach seals close to the shore, while extended visibility helped the sharks in making predatory choices towards the more energy-rich prey source, the odorless seal-shaped decoy. On the contrary, warmer water is associated with an increase in phytoplankton that reduces underwater visibility and increases the diversity of teleosts including tuna—a known prey of white sharks—driving the sharks to favor the tuna bait. Overall, sea conditions were almost always slightly rough, ensuring a good average underwater visibility. Recommendations for future research work at this site are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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24 pages, 2059 KiB  
Article
Demographic Analysis of Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the South Pacific Ocean
by Hoang Huy Huynh, Chun-Yi Hung and Wen-Pei Tsai
Animals 2022, 12(22), 3229; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12223229 - 21 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2500
Abstract
The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) demonstrates low productivity and is thus relatively sensitive to fishing. Natural mortality (M) and fishing mortality (F) data are critical to determine their population dynamics. However, catch and fishing effort data [...] Read more.
The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) demonstrates low productivity and is thus relatively sensitive to fishing. Natural mortality (M) and fishing mortality (F) data are critical to determine their population dynamics. However, catch and fishing effort data are unavailable for this species in the South Pacific Ocean, making stock assessments difficult. Demographic quantitative methods aid in analyzing species with limited data availability. We used a two-sex stage-structured matrix population model to examine the demographic stock status of mako sharks. However, data-limited models to determine fishery management strategies have limitations. We performed Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate the effects of uncertainty on the estimated mako shark population growth rate. Under unfished conditions, the simulations demonstrated that the mako sharks showed a higher finite population growth rate in the 2-year reproductive cycle compared to the 3-year reproductive cycle. Protecting immature mako sharks led to a higher population growth rate than protecting mature mako sharks. According to the sex-specific data, protecting immature male and female sharks led to a higher population growth rate than protecting mature male and female sharks. In conclusion, sex-specific management measures can facilitate the sustainable mako shark conservation and management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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12 pages, 1424 KiB  
Article
New Occurrences of the Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) (Carcharhinidae) off the Coast of Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil: Seasonality Indications
by Izar Aximoff, Rodrigo Cumplido, Marcelo Tardelli Rodrigues, Ubirajara Gonçalves de Melo, Eduardo Barros Fagundes Netto, Sérgio Ricardo Santos and Rachel Ann Hauser-Davis
Animals 2022, 12(20), 2774; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12202774 - 14 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1564
Abstract
The tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur, 1822) (Carcharhinidae) is classified as near-threatened along the Brazilian coast, in line with its global categorization. Although Rio de Janeiro, located in southeastern Brazil, is internationally identified as a priority shark conservation area, many shark [...] Read more.
The tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur, 1822) (Carcharhinidae) is classified as near-threatened along the Brazilian coast, in line with its global categorization. Although Rio de Janeiro, located in southeastern Brazil, is internationally identified as a priority shark conservation area, many shark species, including tiger sharks, are landed by both industrial and artisanal fisheries in this state. However, there is a lack of detailed information on the species capture pressures and records for the state of Rio de Janeiro. Therefore, the aims of this study were to expand the tiger shark record database and to improve upon future conservation and management strategies. Tiger shark records from four coastal Rio de Janeiro regions were obtained by direct observation. The information obtained from fishery colonies/associations, environmental guards, researchers, and scientific articles, totaling 23 records, resulted in an approximately 5-fold increase in the number of tiger shark records off the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. A possible seasonality pattern concerning the size of the captured/observed animals was noted, emphasizing the need to consider the coast of Rio de Janeiro as an especially relevant area for at least part of the life history of tiger sharks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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13 pages, 1479 KiB  
Article
How Well Do ‘Catch-Only’ Assessment Models Capture Catch Time Series Start Years and Default Life History Prior Values? A Preliminary Stock Assessment of the South Atlantic Ocean Blue Shark Using a Catch-Based Model
by Richard Kindong, Feng Wu, Siquan Tian and Ousmane Sarr
Animals 2022, 12(11), 1386; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12111386 - 27 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1960
Abstract
CMSY++, an improved version of the CMSY approach developed from Catch-MSY which uses a Bayesian implementation of a modified Schaefer model and can predict stock status and exploitation, was used in the present study. Evaluating relative performance is vital in situations when dealing [...] Read more.
CMSY++, an improved version of the CMSY approach developed from Catch-MSY which uses a Bayesian implementation of a modified Schaefer model and can predict stock status and exploitation, was used in the present study. Evaluating relative performance is vital in situations when dealing with fisheries with different catch time series start years and biological prior information. To identify the influences of data inputs on CMSY++ outputs, this paper evaluated the use of a nominal reported catch and a reconstructed catch dataset of the South Atlantic blue shark alongside different priors of the blue shark’s productivity/resilience (r) coupled with different indices of abundance. Results from the present study showed that different catch time series start years did not have a significant influence on the estimation of the biomass and fishing reference points reported by CMSY++. However, uninformative priors of r affected the output results of the model. The developed model runs with varying and joint abundance indices showed conflicting results, as classification rates in the final year changed with respect to the type of index used. However, the model runs indicated that South Atlantic blue shark stock could be overfished (B2020/Bmsy = 0.623 to 1.15) and that overfishing could be occurring (F2020/Fmsy = 0.818 to 1.78). This result is consistent with the results from a previous assessment using a state-space surplus production model applied for the same stock in 2015. Though some potential could be observed when using CMSY++, the results from this model ought to be taken with caution. Additionally, the continuous development of prior information useful for this model would help strengthen its performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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9 pages, 10747 KiB  
Communication
What Is in Your Shark Fin Soup? Probably an Endangered Shark Species and a Bit of Mercury
by Christina Pei Pei Choy and Benjamin J. Wainwright
Animals 2022, 12(7), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12070802 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5677
Abstract
Shark fin soup, consumed by Asian communities throughout the world, is one of the principal drivers of the demand of shark fins. This near USD 1 billion global industry has contributed to a shark population declines of up to 70%. In an effort [...] Read more.
Shark fin soup, consumed by Asian communities throughout the world, is one of the principal drivers of the demand of shark fins. This near USD 1 billion global industry has contributed to a shark population declines of up to 70%. In an effort to arrest these declines, the trade in several species of sharks is regulated under the auspices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Despite this legal framework, the dried fins of trade-regulated sharks are frequently sold in markets and consumed in shark fin soup. Shark fins found in soups break down into a fibrous mass of ceratotrichia, meaning that identifying the species of sharks in the soup becomes impossible by visual methods. In this paper, we use DNA barcoding to identify the species of sharks found in bowls of shark fin soup collected in Singapore. The most common species identified in our samples was the blue shark (Prionace glauca), a species listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List with a decreasing population, on which scientific data suggests catch limits should be imposed. We identified four other shark species that are listed on CITES Appendix II, and in total ten species that are assessed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Globally, the blue shark has been shown to contain levels of mercury that frequently exceed safe dose limits. Given the prevalence of this species in the examined soups and the global nature of the fin trade, it is extremely likely that consumers of shark fin soup will be exposed to unsafe levels of this neurotoxin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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22 pages, 17431 KiB  
Article
Integrated Taxonomy Revealed Genetic Differences in Morphologically Similar and Non-Sympatric Scoliodon macrorhynchos and S. laticaudus
by Kean Chong Lim, William T. White, Amy Y. H. Then, Gavin J. P. Naylor, Sirachai Arunrugstichai and Kar-Hoe Loh
Animals 2022, 12(6), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12060681 - 08 Mar 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4769
Abstract
Previous examination of the mitochondrial NADH2 gene and morphological characteristics led to the resurrection of Scoliodon macrorhynchos as a second valid species in the genus, in addition to S. laticaudus. This study applied an integrated taxonomic approach to revisit the classification of [...] Read more.
Previous examination of the mitochondrial NADH2 gene and morphological characteristics led to the resurrection of Scoliodon macrorhynchos as a second valid species in the genus, in addition to S. laticaudus. This study applied an integrated taxonomic approach to revisit the classification of the genus Scoliodon based on new materials from the Malaysian Peninsula, Malaysian Borneo and Eastern Bay of Bengal. Mitochondrial DNA data suggested the possibility of three species of Scoliodon in the Indo-West Pacific, while the nuclear DNA data showed partially concordant results with a monophyletic clade of S. macrorhynchos and paraphyletic clades of S. laticaudus and S. cf. laticaudus from the Malacca Strait. Morphological, meristic and dental characteristics overlapped between the three putative species. Collective molecular and morphological evidence suggested that the differences that exist among the non-sympatric species of Scoliodon are consistent with isolation by distance, and Scoliodon macrorhynchos remains as a valid species, while S. cf. laticaudus is assigned as S. laticaudus. The Malacca Strait acts as a spatial delineator in separating the Pacific S. macrorhynchos (including South China Sea) from the Northern Indian Ocean S. laticaudus. Future taxonomic work should focus on clarifying the taxonomic status of Scoliodon from the Indonesian waters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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11 pages, 1376 KiB  
Article
Length at Maturity, Sex Ratio, and Proportions of Maturity of the Giant Electric Ray, Narcine entemedor, in Its Septentrional Distribution
by Xchel Aurora Pérez-Palafox, Enrique Morales-Bojórquez, Hugo Aguirre-Villaseñor and Víctor Hugo Cruz-Escalona
Animals 2022, 12(1), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010120 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3282
Abstract
The size at which a certain fraction of a fish population reaches sexual maturity is an important parameter of life history. The estimation of this parameter based on logistic or sigmoid models could provide different ogives and values of length at maturity, which [...] Read more.
The size at which a certain fraction of a fish population reaches sexual maturity is an important parameter of life history. The estimation of this parameter based on logistic or sigmoid models could provide different ogives and values of length at maturity, which must be analyzed and considered as a basic feature of biological reproduction for the species. A total of 305 individuals of Narcine entemedor (N. entemedor) were obtained from artisanal fisheries in the Bahía de La Paz, Mexico. For the organisms sampled, sexes were determined and total length (TL) in cm was measured from October 2013 to December 2015. The results indicated that the females were larger, ranging from 48.5 cm to 84 cm TL, while males varied from 41.5 cm to 58.5 cm TL. The sex ratio was dominated by males ranging from 45–55 cm TL, while females were more abundant from 60 to 85 cm TL. Mature females were present all year long, exhibiting a continuous annual reproductive cycle. The length at maturity data were described by the Gompertz model with value of 55.87 cm TL. The comparison between models, and the model selection between them, showed that the Gompertz model had maximum likelihood and smaller Akaike information criterion, indicating that this model was a better fit to the maturity proportion data of N. entemedor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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15 pages, 2529 KiB  
Article
Growth Modeling of the Giant Electric Ray Narcine entemedor in the Southern Gulf of California: Analyzing the Uncertainty of Three Data Sets
by Pablo Mora-Zamacona, Felipe N. Melo-Barrera, Víctor H. Cruz-Escalona, Andrés F. Navia, Enrique Morales-Bojórquez, Xchel A. Pérez-Palafox and Paola A. Mejía-Falla
Animals 2022, 12(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010019 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2557
Abstract
The age and growth rate of the giant electric ray, Narcine entemedor, was estimated using growth bands deposited in the vertebral centra of 245 specimens. Differences in size and age distribution were found between the sexes, a pattern that suggests the annual [...] Read more.
The age and growth rate of the giant electric ray, Narcine entemedor, was estimated using growth bands deposited in the vertebral centra of 245 specimens. Differences in size and age distribution were found between the sexes, a pattern that suggests the annual deposition of band pairs, possibly occurring in April. Multimodel inference and back-calculation were performed to three age data sets of females considering their reproductive cycle and time of capture, among which the von Bertalanffy growth function was found to be the most appropriate (L = 81.87 cm TL, k = 0.17 year−1). Our research supports the idea that age can be determined via biological features such as birth date and growth band periodicity. We concluded that N. entemedor is of a moderate body size, moderate longevity and is a fast-growing elasmobranch species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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16 pages, 3784 KiB  
Article
Spatial–Temporal Distribution of Megamouth Shark, Megachasma pelagios, Inferred from over 250 Individuals Recorded in the Three Oceans
by Chi-Ju Yu, Shoou-Jeng Joung, Hua-Hsun Hsu, Chia-Yen Lin, Tzu-Chi Hsieh, Kwang-Ming Liu and Atsuko Yamaguchi
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2947; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102947 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2680
Abstract
The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is one of the rarest shark species in the three oceans, and its biological and fishery information is still very limited. A total of 261 landing/stranding records were examined, including 132 females, 87 males, and 42 [...] Read more.
The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is one of the rarest shark species in the three oceans, and its biological and fishery information is still very limited. A total of 261 landing/stranding records were examined, including 132 females, 87 males, and 42 sex unknown individuals, to provide the most detailed information on global megamouth shark records, and the spatial–temporal distribution of M. pelagios was inferenced from these records. The vertical distribution of M. pelagios ranged 0–1203 m in depth, and immature individuals were mostly found in the waters shallower than 200 m. Mature individuals are not only able to dive deeper, but also move to higher latitude waters. The majority of M. pelagios are found in the western North Pacific Ocean (>5° N). The Indian and Atlantic Oceans are the potential nursery areas for this species, immature individuals are mainly found in Indonesia and Philippine waters. Large individuals tend to move towards higher latitude waters (>15° N) for foraging and growth from April to August. Sexual segregation of M. pelagios is found, females tend to move to higher latitude waters (>30° N) in the western North Pacific Ocean, but males may move across the North Pacific Ocean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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23 pages, 10774 KiB  
Article
A Taxonomic Survey of Female Oviducal Glands in Chondrichthyes: A Comparative Overview of Microanatomy in the Two Reproductive Modes
by Martina Francesca Marongiu, Cristina Porcu, Noemi Pascale, Andrea Bellodi, Alessandro Cau, Antonello Mulas, Paola Pesci, Riccardo Porceddu and Maria Cristina Follesa
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2653; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092653 - 09 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2268
Abstract
Oviducal glands (OGs) are distinct expanded regions of the anterior portion of the oviduct, commonly found in chondrichthyans, which play a key role in the production of the egg in-vestments and in the female sperm storage (FSS). The FSS phenomenon has implications for [...] Read more.
Oviducal glands (OGs) are distinct expanded regions of the anterior portion of the oviduct, commonly found in chondrichthyans, which play a key role in the production of the egg in-vestments and in the female sperm storage (FSS). The FSS phenomenon has implications for understanding the reproductive ecology and management of exploited populations, but little information is available on its taxonomic extent. For the first time, mature OGs from three lecithotrophic oviparous and four yolk-sac viviparous species, all considered at risk from the fishing impacts in the central western Mediterranean Sea, were examined using light microscopy. The OG microanatomy, whose morphology is generally conserved in all species, shows differences within the two reproductive modalities. Oviparous species show a more developed baffle zone in respect to viviparous ones because of the production of different egg envelopes produced. Among oviparous species, Raja polystigma and Chimaera monstrosa show presence of sperm, but not sperm storage as observed, instead, in Galeus melastomus and in all the viviparous sharks, which preserve sperm inside of specialized structures in the terminal zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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9 pages, 926 KiB  
Article
Passive Prey Discrimination in Surface Predatory Behaviour of Bait-Attracted White Sharks from Gansbaai, South Africa
by Primo Micarelli, Federico Chieppa, Antonio Pacifico, Enrico Rabboni and Francesca Romana Reinero
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2583; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092583 - 03 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3188
Abstract
Between the years 2008 and 2013, six annual research expeditions were carried out at Dyer Island (Gansbaai, South Africa) to study the surface behaviour of white sharks in the presence of two passive prey: tuna bait and a seal-shaped decoy. Sightings were performed [...] Read more.
Between the years 2008 and 2013, six annual research expeditions were carried out at Dyer Island (Gansbaai, South Africa) to study the surface behaviour of white sharks in the presence of two passive prey: tuna bait and a seal-shaped decoy. Sightings were performed from a commercial cage-diving boat over 247 h; 250 different white sharks, with a mean total length (TL) of 308 cm, were observed. Of these, 166 performed at least one or more interactions, for a total of 240 interactions with bait and the seal-shaped decoy. In Gansbaai, there is a population of transient white sharks consisting mainly of immature specimens throughout the year. Both mature and immature sharks preferred to prey on the seal-shaped decoy, probably due to the dietary shift that occurs in white sharks whose TL varies between 200 cm and 340 cm. As it is widely confirmed that white sharks change their diet from a predominantly piscivorous juvenile diet to a mature marine mammalian diet, it is possible that Gansbaai may be a hunting training area and that sharks show a discriminate food choice, a strategy that was adopted by the majority of specimens thanks to their ability to visualize energetically richer prey, after having been attracted by the odorous source represented by the tuna bait. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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30 pages, 4049 KiB  
Article
Batoid Abundances, Spatial Distribution, and Life History Traits in the Strait of Sicily (Central Mediterranean Sea): Bridging a Knowledge Gap through Three Decades of Survey
by Michele Luca Geraci, Sergio Ragonese, Danilo Scannella, Fabio Falsone, Vita Gancitano, Jurgen Mifsud, Miriam Gambin, Alicia Said and Sergio Vitale
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2189; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082189 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 4399
Abstract
Batoid species play a key role in marine ecosystems but unfortunately they have globally declined over the last decades. Given the paucity of information, abundance data and the main life history traits for batoids, obtained through about three decades of bottom trawl surveys, [...] Read more.
Batoid species play a key role in marine ecosystems but unfortunately they have globally declined over the last decades. Given the paucity of information, abundance data and the main life history traits for batoids, obtained through about three decades of bottom trawl surveys, are presented and discussed. The surveys were carried out in two areas of the Central Mediterranean (South of Sicily and Malta Island), in a timeframe ranging from 1990 to 2018. Excluding some batoids, the abundance trends were stable or increasing. Only R. clavata, R. miraletus, and D. oxyrinchus showed occurrence and abundance indexes notable enough to carry out more detailed analysis. In particular, spatial distribution analysis of these species highlighted the presence of two main hotspots in Sicilian waters whereas they seem more widespread in Malta. The lengths at first maturity (L50) were 695 and 860, 635 and 574, and 364 and 349 mm total length (TL), respectively, for females and males of D. oxyrinchus, R. clavata, and R. miraletus. The asymptotic lengths (L∞) and the curvature coefficients (K) were 1365 and 1240 (K = 0.11 and 0.26), 1260 and 1100 (K = 0.16 and 0.26), and 840 and 800 mm TL (K = 0.36 and 0.41), respectively, for females and males of D. oxyrinchus, R. clavata, and R. miraletus. The lack of detailed quantitative historical information on batoids of Sicily and Malta does not allow to analytically judge the current status of the stocks, although the higher abundance of some species within Malta raises some concern for the Sicilian counterpart. In conclusion, suitable actions to protect batoids in the investigated area are recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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18 pages, 1591 KiB  
Article
Vulnerability Assessment of Pelagic Sharks in the Western North Pacific by Using an Integrated Ecological Risk Assessment
by Kwang-Ming Liu, Lung-Hsin Huang, Kuan-Yu Su and Shoou-Jeng Joung
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2161; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082161 - 21 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3875
Abstract
The vulnerability of 11 pelagic shark species caught by the Taiwanese coastal and offshore longline fisheries in the western North Pacific were assessed by an ecological risk assessment (ERA) and 10 of the 11 species was assessed by using an integrated ERA developed [...] Read more.
The vulnerability of 11 pelagic shark species caught by the Taiwanese coastal and offshore longline fisheries in the western North Pacific were assessed by an ecological risk assessment (ERA) and 10 of the 11 species was assessed by using an integrated ERA developed in this study. The intrinsic rate of population growth was used to estimate the productivity of sharks, and the susceptibility of sharks was estimated by the multiplication of the catchability, selectivity, and post-capture mortality. Three indices namely, the IUCN Red List category, the body weight variation trend, and the inflection point of population growth curve coupled with ERA were used to conduct an integrated ERA. The results indicated that the scalloped hammerhead is at the highest risk (group 1), followed by the silky shark, and the spinner shark at high risk (group 2). The bigeye thresher, and sandbar shark fall in group 3, the smooth hammerhead falls in group 4, and the shortfin mako, pelagic thresher, oceanic whitetip, and dusky shark fall in group 5. Rigorous management measures for the species in groups 1 and 2, setting total allowable catch quota for group 3, and consistent monitoring schemes for groups 4 and 5 are recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sharks and Skates: Ecology, Distribution and Conservation)
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