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

Age and growth of the scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, in the north-west Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico

Andrew N. Piercy A C , John K. Carlson B , James A. Sulikowski A and George H. Burgess A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Florida Program for Shark Research, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.

B Southeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, 3500 Delwood Beach Road, Panama City, FL 32408, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 58(1) 34-40
Submitted: 24 September 2005  Accepted: 26 July 2006   Published: 30 January 2007


The scalloped hammerhead, Sphryna lewini (Griffith & Smith, 1834), is a globally exploited species of shark. In order to gain insight into the life history of this species in the USA waters, age and growth was examined from specimens (n = 307) captured from the north-west Atlantic Ocean and from the Gulf of Mexico. The von Bertalanffy growth model resulted in growth parameters of L = 214.8 cm fork length (FL), k = 0.13 year–1, t0 = –1.62 year for males and L = 233.1 cm FL, k = 0.09 year–1, t0 = –2.22 year for females. The oldest age estimates obtained for this population were 30.5 years for both males and females, which corresponded to FL of 234 cm and 241 cm respectively. Bowker’s test of symmetry and Index of Average Per Cent Error suggests that our ageing method represents a non-biased and precise approach to the age assessment. Marginal increments were significantly different between months (Kruskal–Wallis P = 0.017) with a distinct trend of increasing monthly increment growth beginning in January. When compared to previously published studies, our growth estimates suggest slower growth than populations in the Pacific Ocean but faster growth than previously reported in the Gulf of Mexico.

Additional keywords: Sphyrnidae, vertebrae.


We thank Alexia Morgan and Dr F. F. Snelson Jr (Florida Program for Shark Research) for assistance in the collection of shark specimens for this study. We extend our gratitude to the numerous student interns and volunteers for helping with the cleaning of vertebrae. We also thank Dr Lisa Natanson from the NOAA/NMFS Narragansett, RI laboratory for intercalibration of vertebral banding patterns. A portion of the funding for this project was contributed by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Highly Migratory Species Division through the Florida Program for Shark Research, a member institution in the National Shark Research Consortium.


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