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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 65(12)

Age and growth of the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in the north-western Pacific

Hua Hsun Hsu A B F, Shoou Jeng Joung A B E F, Robert E. Hueter C and Kwang Ming Liu B D

A Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, National Taiwan Ocean University, 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 20224, Taiwan.
B George Chen Shark Research Center, National Taiwan Ocean University, 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 20224, Taiwan.
C Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA.
D Institute of Marine Affairs and Resource Management, National Taiwan Ocean University, 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 20224, Taiwan.
E Corresponding author. Email: f0010@mail.ntou.edu.tw
F Note: equal contribution of first author and corresponding author.

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(12) 1145-1154 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13330
Submitted: 13 December 2013  Accepted: 14 April 2014   Published: 10 October 2014

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This study estimated age and growth of the largest extant fish, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) by counting vertebral band pairs from 92 specimens comprising 43 males (2.68–9.88 m total length [TL]), 30 females (1.60–7.02 m TL), and 19 unsexed individuals (2.83–6.67 m TL) taken by Taiwanese commercial fisheries during 2001–06. Growth band pairs up to 25 and 42 were counted for a 6.38-m TL female and a 9.88-m TL male, respectively. Using marginal increment ratio and centrum edge analysis, band pairs were postulated to be formed twice a year. The two-parameter von Bertalanffy growth function provided the best fit without significant differences between sexes. Growth parameters were calculated for both sexes as L = 16.80 m TL, k = 0.037 year–1; annual band pair formation would modify these parameters to L = 15.34 m TL, k = 0.021 year–1. Using data reported in another study for 50% size at maturity for males (8.1 m TL), and the largest immature and smallest mature females (8.7 and 9.6 m TL, respectively) in the Indo-Pacific, these TLs converted to ages at maturity of 17 years for males and 19–22 years for females. The longevity was calculated to be 80.4 years.

Additional keywords: band pair, Taiwan, vertebra, X-ray.


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