Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 39–47 | Cite as

Analysis of bomb radiocarbon data for common thresher sharks, Alopias vulpinus, in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean with revised growth curves

  • Lisa J. Natanson
  • Li Ling Hamady
  • Brian J. Gervelis


Bomb radiocarbon dating was used to determine the periodicity of band pair formation in the vertebral centra of three common thresher sharks (Alopias vulpinus). The traditional interpretation of band pairs were accurate (i.e. annual) up to approximately 14 years of age. In older individuals, band pair counts underestimated age. A new maximum validated age was estimated to be 38 years (an increase of 18 years over the band count estimates). Previously reported length at age estimates for common thresher sharks up to 14 years were used in conjunction with the two older validated estimates to develop a revised growth curve for the species, which was described using the Schnute general model (sexes combined). Updated estimates of age at maturity remained the same for males (8 years) and increased by one year to 13 years for females. The primary finding was the increase in longevity for this species from a band pair count estimate of 24 years to a bomb radiocarbon validated estimate of 38 years, indicating this species lives much longer than previously thought.


Age Elasmobranchs Carbon-14 Vertebral column Centra 



This study would not have been possible without the staff of the NMFS Apex Predators Program (Narragansett, RI). We thank Allen Andrews for both technical support and draft revisions and Megan Winton who provided statistical support. We are indebted to the thousands of tournament fishermen who voluntarily provided samples from shark tournaments, along with tagged and returned sharks from the NMFS Cooperative Shark Tagging Program as well as Simon Thorrold and the staff at NOSAMS. Funding for radiocarbon analyses came from a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Ventures Fund grant to LLH #00464173.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa J. Natanson
    • 1
  • Li Ling Hamady
    • 2
  • Brian J. Gervelis
    • 1
  1. 1.National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNOAA Fisheries-NEFSCNarragansettUSA
  2. 2.Department of Polar ProgramsNational Science FoundationArlingtonUSA

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