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

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Age and growth of sharks: do vertebral band pairs record age?

Lisa Natanson , Gregory Skomal , Sarah Hoffmann , Marianne Porter , Kenneth Goldman , David Serra


Inaccurate age estimates can have severe consequences in the management of elasmobranchs. Numerous studies in shark age validation have demonstrated a disconnect between band-pair counts and age, resulting in age underestimation particularly in older individuals. To investigate the relationship between band pairs, vertebral shape and growth we quantified intra-column differences in centrum morphology – size and structure – and band pair counts in seven shark species: Squatina dumeril, Carcharodon carcharias, Lamna nasus, Isurus oxyrhinchus, Alopias vulpinus, Prionace glauca, Carcharhinus obscurus. In all species examined, band pair deposition was closely related to body girth and the structural properties of the cartilaginous skeleton, relative to maximum size, and body type. These results have strong implications for accurately assessing age for fisheries management of these species.

MF17279  Accepted 16 February 2018

© CSIRO 2018