, Volume 156, Issue 10, pp 2199-2207
Date: 24 Jun 2009

Concordance of genetic and fin photo identification in the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias , off Mossel Bay, South Africa

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Visual identification of naturally acquired marks has been a popular if subjective method of animal identification and population estimation over the last 40 years. Molecular genetics has also independently developed objective individual marking techniques during the same period. Here, we assess the concordance of individual great white shark (Carcharodon carharias) dorsal fin recognition and identification, using seven microsatellite loci as the independent unbiased arbiter, over a period of 5 years. As a monitoring technique, fin photographs offer a very good individual identification key for white sharks over a relatively short period of time (5 years), matching with genetic data in about 85% of cases, whilst caution and a continuously updated database is required for animal recognition over a longer period.