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First record of the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae) from Indian waters

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The sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, is a common coastal shark in the regions of the world where it occurs. Here, the first documented record of the sandbar shark is reported from north-western Indian waters, off the coast of Gujarat. Two specimens, one male and one female, were recorded and landed by a trawl vessel in Porbandar on 23 October 2014, measuring 610 and 760 mm in total length, respectively. This occurrence represents the first confirmed record of C. plumbeus in both western and eastern Indian waters.
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First record of the sandbar shark,
Carcharhinus plumbeus, (Chondrichthyes:
Carcharhiniformes: Carcharhinidae)
from Indian waters
dipani sutaria
1
, aashi parikh
2
, alissa barnes
3
and rima w. jabado
4
1
James Cook University, Townsville, 4810, Queensland, Australia,
2
St Xaviers College, Ahmedabad, 382421, Gujarat, India,
3
A.V.C.
College, Tamil Nadu, 609305, India,
4
Gulf Elasmo Project, P.O. Box 29588, Dubai, UAE
The sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, is a common coastal shark in the regions of the world where it occurs. Here, the
first documented record of the sandbar shark is reported from north-western Indian waters, off the coast of Gujarat. Two
specimens, one male and one female, were recorded and landed by a trawl vessel in Porbandar on 23 October 2014, measuring
610 and 760 mm in total length, respectively. This occurrence represents the first confirmed record of C. plumbeus in both
western and eastern Indian waters.
Keywords: sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, new record, Gujarat, India, elasmobranchs
Submitted 3 May 2015; accepted 23 July 2015
INTRODUCTION
The family Carcharhinidae comprises at least 56 described
species (Ebert et al., 2013), of which 26 have been confirmed
from Indian waters (Akhilesh et al., 2014). The sandbar
shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus (Nardo, 1827), is a wide-
ranging large coastal shark found in warm and temperate
seas and inhabiting continental and insular shelves, as well
as deep waters adjacent to them (Compagno, 1984). The
sandbar shark is usually common in the areas where it
occurs (McElroy et al., 2006; Ellis & Musick, 2007), often
found in coastal waters, and utilizing bays, estuaries and
shallow near-shore habitats as nursery areas during the first
few years of its life (Compagno, 1984; National Marine
Fisheries Service, 1991). Some populations of sandbar sharks
across the world have shown significant declines due to
fishing pressures and their conservative life history traits
(slow growth , late maturity and low fecundity) (Musick
et al., 2009). Therefore, this species is categorized as
Vulnerable globally based on the IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species criteria (Musick et al., 2009).
Recent studies investigating shark diversity in the Arabian
Sea and adjacent waters have confirmed the occurrence of C.
plumbeus from the Red Sea, northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of
Oman and Arabian/Persian Gulf (Henderson et al., 2008;
Jabado et al., 2014b, 2015; Spaet & Berumen, 2015).
Records from the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast indicate
that this species is landed but represents less than 1% of
sampled landings (Spaet & Berumen, 2015). Market surveys
along the coast of Oman only documented a 940 mm imma-
ture female from Dibba in early winter (Henderson et al.,
2008). Furthermore, a longlining project captured a pregnant
female measuring 2020 mm in total length (TL) and a mature
male of 1730 mm TL in Muscat at a depth of 120 m in late
spring (Henderson et al., 2008). Intensive landing site
surveys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only recorded
13 C. plumbeus (Jabado et al., 2014b) while fishery independ-
ent surveys captured one female measuring 1800 mm TL
along the coast of Dubai at a depth of 20 m (Jabado, unpub-
lished data). Data from the trade in shark species undertaken
through the UAE indicates that over 3% of species traded
originate from C. plumbeus captured in Arabian Seas and
Gulf of Oman waters (Jabado et al., 2015). Although the
abundance of sandbar sharks in these waters seems to be
relatively low compared to other species, specimens of
various life history stages are reported throughout the year
from the region.
Only one reference to the occurrence of C. plumbeus in
Indian waters exists in the published literature on Indian elas-
mobranchs, with the authors suggesting it appears in pelagic
shark catches of tuna longline vessels in offshore waters of
the Arabian Sea, but with no further details provided (Pillai
& Parakkal, 2000). Yet, in a recent comprehensive review of
chondrichthyan diversity in Indian waters, this species was
not reported (Akhilesh et al., 2014
). Here, we present the
first evidence of the occurrence of C. plumbeus off western
India.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
On 23 October 2014, two sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plum-
beus, were landed at the fishing port of Porbander in Gu jarat,
Corresponding author:
R.W. Jabado
Email: rimajabado@hotmail.com
1
Marine Biodiversity Records, page 1 of 3. # Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 2015
doi:10.1017/S1755267215001025; Vol. 8; e126; 2015 Published online
India (Figure 1). The specimens were caught by a trawl vessel
that was out fishing for two weeks, initially operating within a
40 m depth while traveling north, and then in deeper waters
west of Dwarka and Jakhau at depths of 80 100 m. The TL
(mm) was measured to the nearest centimetre using a measur-
ing tape along the stretched body of the specimen (Compagno,
1984). Sex was determined by the presence or absence of clas-
pers, but no observations were made of the internal organs.
Weight was recorded using a circular spring balance.
RESULTS
The identification of the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plum-
beus, was based on the typical diagnostic features of this
species as described by Compagno (1984)(Figure 2).
Two specimens, one male and one female, were recorded
and measured 610 and 760 mm TL, respectively. The male
specimen had partially developed claspers. Although it was
not possible to weigh the male specimen, the female
weighed approximately 2 kg.
DISCUSSION
This record of Carcharhinus plumbeus, the first from Indian
waters and specifically from the western Indian coast, is
important in understanding the wide geographic range of
this species. It brings the total number of shark species
known from Indian waters to 75 and the chondrichthyan
species to 156. Records of C. plumbeus from the northern
Indian Ocean exist primarily from the Red Sea, the
Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea (Henderson et al., 2008;
Jabado et al., 2014b, 2015; Spaet & Berumen, 2015) and
indicate that this species is either not abundant in this
region or has limited interactions with regional fisheries.
The latter is unlikely due to the nature of fisheries in the
region, which are multi-species and multi-gear (Balan
et al., 1987; Jabado et al. , 2014a). However, it indicates
that this species is wide-ranging and that, given the
limited capacity in shark identification in the northern
Arabian Sea area, it may have been previously landed but
misidentified or has gone unreported.
The small size of the two specimens reported here, as well
as the non-calcified claspers of the male record, confirms that
they were juveniles. In fact, although biological traits of
various shark species can vary considerably between different
regions of the world (Compagno et al., 2005), C. plumbeus
males and females reach maturity at lengths varying
between 1080 and 1830, and 1085 and 1490 mm TL, respec t-
ively (Stevens & McLoughlin, 1991; Hazin et al., 2007; White,
2007). Although information on the exact capture location of
these specimens could not be recorded, many of the trawlers
off Porbander fish north, west and north-west of Porbandar
in waters ranging from 20 to 180 m (Sutaria, unpublished
data), reinforcing some of the previous studies on this
species that indicate it is generally a demersal species
(McElroy et al., 2006; Ellis & Musick, 2007).
While this record provides additiona l informati on on the
occurrence and distribution of the sandbar shark in this
region, more data is required to fully understand its ecology
and distribution. Furthermore, it reflects the limited knowl-
edge of elasmobranchs in the region. In fact, with new elasmo-
branch records frequently reported from Indian waters (Babu
et al., 2011; Kumar et al., 2012, 2013; Bineesh et al., 2014; Sen
et al., 2014), more research on the diversity of these species in
this region is warranted.
Fig. 1. Map of the region with an inset depicting the location where the Carcharhinus plumbeus specimens were landed.
Fig. 2. Carcharhinus plumbeus (Nardo, 1827), female, lateral view, 760 mm TL.
2 dipani sutaria et al.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank the fishermen in Porbander for allow-
ing us to collect information from the specimen and for sup-
porting our research in the area. The Save Our Seas
Foundation provided financial support for these surveys
through a grant to Dipani Sutaria.
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Correspondence should be addressed to:
R.W. Jabado
Gulf Elasmo Project
P.O. Box 29588, Dubai, UAE
email: rimajabado@hotmail.com
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Anecdotal evidence suggests that sharks are being targeted in the United Arab Emirates artisanal fishery. However, little information is available on this fishery and baseline information is essential for understanding its impact on shark populations in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, and for managing sharks in this region.The aim of this study was to investigate the artisanal shark fishery and gain an insight into the social, motivational and economic drivers behind it. Fishery characteristics were examined and the effect of fishing on local shark stocks assessed by interviewing Emirati fishermen across the country (n = 126).Sharks were found to be increasingly targeted owing to their high value in the global fin trade industry. The majority of fishermen (80%) confirmed that changes in species composition, abundance and sizes of sharks have been continuing for more than two decades, mainly because of overfishing, raising concerns about the sustainability of this fishery.Results suggest that sharks are likely to be overexploited and that management measures will need to take into account the precautionary principle. There is an urgent need to formulate long-term and effective conservation and management plans to prevent further declines in a number of species.Additional efforts should be directed to quantify the ecological implications of the observed changes and determine if these are aggravated by the life-history traits of the fished species. Such implications should be considered when assessing the sustainability of local fisheries.The data gathered can now serve as a reference to managers, fisheries scientists and other stakeholders to prioritize future research as well as lay foundations for the development and implementation of national management plans for the protection and conservation of sharks. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.