, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 613-624

On the role of dense aggregations of males and juveniles in the functional structure of the range of the blue shark Prionace glauca

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Abstract

Analysis of the quantitative distribution and size composition indicated a high extent of the differentiation of the range of the blue shark Prionace glauca. This most abundant and widely distributed species in the oceanic epipelagial of the entire World Ocean remains for the first years of its life in coastal and neritic waters at depths of 80 m. At the earliest age, at a length under 70 cm, sexes separate into individual schools; females stay nearer to the coast. In the eastern Atlantic, two regions of juvenile habitats are recorded: to the north and to the south of the equator, with a typical gap between them in tropical waters. On reaching a length of 160–190 cm, sharks leave for oceanic waters; immature females follow dense aggregations of adult males situated in oceanic waters where their first mating takes place with a delayed fertilization until reaching sexual maturity. A similar pattern of distribution is traced in the eastern Pacific and other regions of the World Ocean. Under conditions of an increased demand and high prices of shark fins, such aggregations of juveniles and adult males where density exceeds average values dozens of times, can easily lead to overfishing and endanger the species existence and the stability of the structure of the oceanic biota as a whole. The necessity of introducing international protection measures with respect to such aggregations is substantiated.

Original Russian Text © F.F. Litvinov, 2006, published in Voprosy Ikhtiologii, 2006, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp. 643–655.