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Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 101, Issue 8, pp 1261–1268 | Cite as

Smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) observed off the Portuguese southern coast

  • Ana Couto
  • Nuno Queiroz
  • James T. Ketchum
  • Eduardo Sampaio
  • Miguel Furtado
  • André A. Cid
  • Joana Castro
  • Rui Rosa
Article

Abstract

Despite its worldwide distribution and vulnerable status, knowledge on the biology and ecology of the smooth hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena in the temperate NE Atlantic is very scarce. Here, we reveal intra-annual fluctuations in S. zygaena abundance in the Portuguese southwestern coast, using sightings data collected on board whale watching boats over five years (2010–14; excluding winter months). Moreover, we investigated how shark abundance is related to local environmental conditions. We describe the first smooth hammerhead “hotspot” in the NE Atlantic, and we show a recurrent pattern of occurrence during the warmer summer and autumn months (from July to October) near Sagres and Martinhal Bay and islands. Intra-annual variations in abundance were significantly associated with sea surface temperature and negatively related with upwelling index and chlorophyll a, suggesting horizontal movements linked to the seasonal changes. Hence, hammerheads moved inshore during the warmer periods (with low primary productivity), due to either direct influence of temperature in their movements or indirect influence in prey distribution. This hammerhead “hotspot” may constitute a nursery ground for S. zygaena, nevertheless, our data does not allow us to prove or refute such claim. Future telemetry-based studies should be conducted to fully understand hammerhead movements and habitat preferences, and to evaluate this “hotspot” as a critical habitat for this predator.

Keywords

Sea surface temperature Nursery ground Horizontal movements Seasonality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank CAPE CRUISER Company (located in Sagres) for the data collection. The Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) supported this study through Programa Investigador FCT 2013 – Development Grant to R. Rosa and the strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE.

Supplementary material

10641_2018_773_MOESM1_ESM.docx (74 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 73 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Laboratório Marítimo da GuiaUniversidade de LisboaCascaisPortugal
  2. 2.CIBIO/InBIOUniversidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR)La PazMexico
  4. 4.Pelagios Kakunjá A.C.La PazMexico
  5. 5.Associação para a Investigação do Meio MarinhoLisbonPortugal

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