Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 349–360 | Cite as

A nursery Area for Sharks and Rays in Northeastern Brazil

  • Leandro YokotaEmail author
  • Rosângela Paula Lessa


Elasmobranch nurseries are habitats where females give birth to their young and juveniles spend their early life history. Hypotheses concerning nurseries suggest that these provide the young a better source of food and protection against predation, however the degree of exposure to predatory risk in nursery areas vary. According to Branstetter hypothesis, slow growing species are either born at relatively large sizes or use protected nursery grounds, whereas faster growing species tend to rely more on growth rates than others factors. Primary nurseries are habitats where parturition occurs and in which the young live for a short time and secondary nurseries are habitats in which juveniles are found after leaving the primary nursery and before reaching maturity. Rhizoprionodon porosus and Carcharhinus acronotus use coastal waters off Caiçara do Norte as both primary and secondary nurseries, while Carcharhinus limbatus makes use of the area as a seasonal primary nursery in late spring and early summer. C. falciformis apparently makes use of the end of inner continental shelf and the outer continental shelf as a primary nursery. Gymnura micrura, Rhinobatos percellens and Narcine brasiliensis makes use of coastal and turbid waters of region as both primary and secondary nurseries throughout the year, while Dasyatis guttata utilizes the area as a primary nursery. Aetobatus narinari and Rhinoptera bonasus, although caught in lesser number, appear to use the region as both primary and secondary nurseries and only primary nursery respectively. Dasyatis marianae (endemic from Northeastern Brazil) may use coastal sandbanks as a primary nursery, while Dasyatis Americana apparently exploits waters about 10 – 20 m in depth with rocky reef substrate only as secondary nursery. There was a measurable degree of temporal and spatial separation among sharks’ species, which may effectively create separate ecological niches, whereas among rays, with the exception of the stingray D. marianae, a spatial and temporal overlaps were observed. The Branstetter’s hypothesis was supported.


elasmobranchs conservation early life-history ecology predation habitat 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alvim, A.F. 2005. Idade e crescimento do cação figuinho Rhizoprionodon porosus (Poey 1861) no litoral do Estado do Maranhão. Monografia. Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife. 35 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Bass, A.J. 1978Problems in studies of sharks in the southwest Indian OceanHogdson, E.S.Mathewson, R.F. eds. Sensory Biology of Sharks, Skates and RaysOffice of Naval Research Department of NavyArlington545594Google Scholar
  3. Bethea, D.M., Buckel, J.A., Carlson, J.K. 2004Foraging ecology of the early life stages of four sympatric shark speciesMarine Ecol. Prog. Ser.268245264Google Scholar
  4. Bigelow, H.B., Schroeder, W.C. 1953Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Sawfishes, Guitarfishes, Skates and RaysMemoirs Sears Foundation for Marine ResearchNew Haven588Google Scholar
  5. Blaber, S.J.M., Blaber, T.G. 1980Factors affecting the distribution of juvenile estuarine and inshore fishJ. Fish Biol.17143162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonfil, R. 1997Status of sharks resources in the Southern Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean: implications for managementFish Res.29101117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Branstetter, S. 1987Age, growth and reproductive biology of the silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformes, and the scalloped hammerheas, Sphyrna lewini, from the northwestern Gulf of MexicoEnviron. Biol. Fish.19161173Google Scholar
  8. Branstetter, S. 1990Early life-history implications of selected Carcharhinoid and Lamnoid sharks of the Northwest AtlanticNOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS901728Google Scholar
  9. Camhi, M., S. Fowler, J. Musick, A. Brautigam & F. S. Fordham. 1998. Sharks and their relatives. Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission 20. 39 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. Castro, J.I. 1993The shark nursery of Bulls Bay, South Carolina, with a review of the shark nurseries of the the southeastern coast of the United StatesEnviron. Biol. Fish.383748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clarke, T.A. 1971The ecology of the scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, in HawaiiPacific Sci.25133144Google Scholar
  12. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue, Vol. 4, Parts 1 and 2: Sharks of the world. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125. 665 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Compagno, L.J.V. 1988Sharks of the Order CarcharhiniformesPrincenton University PressNew Jersey450Google Scholar
  14. Hazin, F.H.V., Oliveira, P.G., Broadhurst, M.K. 2002Reproduction of the blacknose shark (Carcharhinus acronotus) in coastal waters off northeastern BrazilFish. Bull.100143148Google Scholar
  15. Heupel, M.R., Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2002Estimation of mortality of juvenile blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, within a nursery area using telemetry dataCan. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci.59624632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holden, M.J. 1974Problems in the rational explotation of elasmobranch population and some suggested solutionsHarden-Jones, F.R. eds. Sea Fisheries ResearchHalsted PressNew York117137Google Scholar
  17. Holden, M.J. 1977ElasmobranchGulland, J.A. eds. Fish Population DynamicsJohn WileyLondon372Google Scholar
  18. IBAMA. 2002. Boletim estatístico da pesca marítima e Estuarina do Nordeste do Brasil – 2000. MMA – Ministério do Meio Ambiente. CEPENE – Centro de Pesquisa e Extensão Pesqueira do Nordeste, ESTATPESCA. 139 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Laevastu, T. & M. Hayes. 1981. Fisheries Oceanography and Ecology Fishing. News Book Ltd., Farnham, 199 ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Lessa, R.P., F.M. Santana, G. Rincón, O.B.F. Gadig & A.C.A. El-deir. 1999. Biodiversidade de Elasmobrânquios do Brasil. Relatório para o Programa Nacional de Diversidade Biológica (PRONABIO) – Necton – Elasmobrânquios. Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA), Recife. 119 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA). 1996. Macrodiagnóstico da Zona Costeira do Brasil na Escala da União. UFRJ, FUJB, LEGET – Programa Nacional do Meio Ambiente, Brasília, ATLAS. 280 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA). 2002. Biodiversidade Brasileira: Avaliação e identificação de áreas e ações prioritárias para a conservação, utilização sustentável e repartição de benefícios da biodiversidade brasileira, Brasília. 404 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 1993. Fishery Management Plan for Sharks of the Atlantic Ocean. NOAA, U.S. Departament of Commerce. 266 ppGoogle Scholar
  24. Palma, J.J.C. 1979. Geomorfologia da plataforma continental brasileira. In: PETROBRÁS, CENPES, DINTEP. Geomorfologia da margem continental brasileira e das áreas oceânicas. Série Projeto REMAC, n. 7. Rio de Janeiro, pp. 25 – 51Google Scholar
  25. Peterson, R.G., Stramma, L. 1991Upper-level circulation in South Atlantic OceanProg. Oceanogr.26173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Simpfendorfer, C.A., Milward, N.E. 1993Utilisation of a tropical bay as a nursery area by sharks of the families Carcharhinidae and SphyrnidaeEnviron Biol. Fish.37337345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Springer, S. 1967Social organization of shark populationsGilbert, P.W.Matheson, R.F.Rall, D.P. eds. Sharks, Skates and RaysJohn Hopkins PressBaltimore149174Google Scholar
  28. Struhsaker, P. 1969Observations on the biology and distribution of the thorny stingray, Dasyatis centroura (Pisces: Dasyatidae)Bull. Mar. Sci.19457481Google Scholar
  29. Swenson, W.A. 1978Influence of Turbidity on Fish Abundance in Western Lake Superior. Research ReportU. S. Environmental Protection AgencyDuluthGoogle Scholar
  30. Vital, H., Stattegger, K., Tabosa, W.F., Riedel, K. 2003Why does erosion occur on the Northeastern coast of Brazil? The Caiçara do Norte beach exampleJ. Coastal Res.35525529Google Scholar
  31. Yokota, L. 2005. Caiçara do Norte (RN): Um berçário de tubarões e raias? Dissertação de Mestrado. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife. 89 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Program in Animal Biology, Department of ZoologyFederal University of Pernambuco (UFPE)RecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Marine Population Dynamics (DIMAR), Department of FisheriesFederal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE)RecifeBrazil

Personalised recommendations