Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Age, growth and maturity of oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) from Papua New Guinea

Brooke M. D’Alberto A E , Andrew Chin A , Jonathan J. Smart A , Leontine Baje A B , William T. White C D and Colin A. Simpfendorfer A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture & College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, 1 James Cook Drive, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B National Fisheries Authority, Deloitte Tower, Douglas Street, Port Moresby, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea.

C CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, 3–4 Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tas. 7004, Australia.

D Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO National Research Collections Australia, Hobart, Tas. 7004, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: brooke.dalberto@my.jcu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(6) 1118-1129 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16165
Submitted: 3 May 2016  Accepted: 3 August 2016   Published: 14 September 2016

Abstract

Oceanic whitetip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus) in the Western Central Pacific have been overfished and require improved assessment and management to enable planning of recovery actions. Samples from 103 individuals (70 males and 33 females; 76.0–240- and 128–235-cm total length (TL) respectively) were used to estimate age, growth and maturity parameters from sharks retained by longline fisheries in Papua New Guinea. Back-calculation was used because of the low number of juveniles and a multimodel framework with Akaike’s information criterion corrected for small sample size (AICc) estimated growth parameters. The von Bertalanffy growth model provided the best fitting growth model for both sexes. Parameter estimates for males were: asymptotic length (L) = 315.6 cm TL; growth coefficient (k) = 0.059 year–1; and length at birth (L0) = 75.1 cm TL. For females, the parameter estimates were: L = 316.7 cm TL; k = 0.057 year–1; and L0 = 74.7 cm TL. Maximum age was estimated to be 18 years for males and 17 years for females, with a calculated longevity of 24.6 and 24.9 years respectively. Males matured at 10.0 years and 193 cm TL, whereas females matured at 15.8 years and 224 cm TL. C. longimanus is a slow-growing, late-maturity species, with regional variation in life history parameters, highlighting increased vulnerability to fishing pressure in this region.

Additional keywords: pelagic shark fisheries, vertebral analysis, Western Central Pacific Ocean.


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