Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 77, Issue 3–4, pp 327–336 | Cite as

Bomb dating and age validation using the spines of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

  • Steven E. CampanaEmail author
  • Cynthia Jones
  • Gordon A. McFarlane
  • Sigmund Myklevoll


Bomb radiocarbon has previously been used to validate the age of large pelagic sharks based on incorporation into vertebrae. However, not all sharks produce interpretable vertebral growth bands. Here we report the first application of bomb radiocarbon as an age validation method based on date-specific incorporation into spine enamel. Our results indicate that the dorsal spines of spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias, recorded and preserved a bomb radiocarbon pulse in growth bands formed during the 1960s with a timing which was very similar to that of marine carbonates. Using radiocarbon assays of spine growth bands known to have formed in the 1960s and 1970s as a dated marker, we confirm the validity of spine enamel growth band counts as accurate annual age indicators to an age of at least 45 year. Radiocarbon incorporation into northeast Atlantic dogfish spines occurred in similar years as those in the northwest Atlantic and northeast Pacific, although the amount of radiocarbon differed in keeping with the radiocarbon content of the different water masses. Published reports suggesting that Pacific dogfish are longer lived and slower growing than their Atlantic counterparts appear to be correct, and are not due to errors in interpreting the spine growth bands. Radiocarbon assays of fin spine enamel appears to be well suited to the age validation of sharks with fin spines which inhabit the upper 200 m of the ocean.


Age determination Shark Longevity Growth rate 


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We thank W. Joyce and L. Marks for expert technical assistance. Two anonymous referees provided helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven E. Campana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cynthia Jones
    • 2
  • Gordon A. McFarlane
    • 3
  • Sigmund Myklevoll
    • 4
  1. 1.Bedford Institute of OceanographyDartmouthCanada
  2. 2.Center for Quantitative Fisheries EcologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.Pacific Biological StationNanaimoCanada
  4. 4.Institute of Marine ResearchBergenNorway

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