Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Life history characteristics of the silky shark Carcharhinus falciformis from the central west Pacific

Michael I. Grant A F , Jonathan J. Smart A B , William T. White C D , Andrew Chin A , Leontine Baje A E and Colin A. Simpfendorfer A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

B SARDI Aquatic Sciences, 2 Hamra Avenue, West Beach, SA 5024, Australia.

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 National Fisheries Authority, The Tower, Douglas Street, PO Box 2016, Port Moresby, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea.

F Corresponding author. Email: Michael.grant4@my.jcu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17163
Submitted: 5 June 2017  Accepted: 17 October 2017   Published online: 16 January 2018

Abstract

In the central west Pacific region, silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) are commonly taken in fisheries, forming up to 95% of incidental elasmobranch bycatch. The present study examined the life history of silky sharks (n = 553) from Papua New Guinean waters. Age was analysed using sectioned vertebrae, and a multimodel approach was applied to the length-at-age data to fit growth models. Females ranged in length from 65.0- to 253.0-cm total length (TL), with the oldest estimated at 28 years. Males ranged in length from 68.4 to 271.3 cm TL and were aged to a maximum of 23 years. The logistic model provided the best fitting growth parameter estimates of length at birth L0 = 82.7 cm TL, growth coefficient g = 0.14 year–1 and asymptotic length L = 261.3 cm TL for the sexes combined. Females reached sexual maturity at 204 cm TL and 14.0 years, whereas males reached maturity at 183 cm TL and 11.6 years. The average litter size from 28 pregnant females was 8 (range of 3–13). The growth parameters and late ages of sexual maturation for silky sharks in the central west Pacific suggest a significant risk from fisheries exploitation without careful population management.

Additional keywords: intraspecific variation, logistic growth function, pelagic shark fisheries, vertebral ageing.


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