Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 719–731 | Cite as

Shark diversity in the Arabian/Persian Gulf higher than previously thought: insights based on species composition of shark landings in the United Arab Emirates

  • Rima W. Jabado
  • Saif M. Al Ghais
  • Waleed Hamza
  • Mahmood S. Shivji
  • Aaron C. Henderson
Original Paper


Although fish fauna in the Arabian/Persian Gulf have been studied for decades, shark diversity has only been recently investigated in the region. Here, we present a first comprehensive account of shark diversity from the United Arab Emirates based on fishery-dependent data collected at market and landing sites over a two-year period of field sampling. Landings across the country were dominated by carcharhinids, and six species were found to be most abundant, including the spot-tail shark, Carcharhinus sorrah, and the milk shark, Rhizoprionodon acutus, contributing 31.8 % and 29.9 %, respectively, of the total number of sharks. While observed landings varied among regions and across seasons, results showed that shark landings were dominated by small-sized species, which may be a reflection of overexploitation. We are now expanding the existing checklist of shark species in the Persian Gulf from 27 to 31, having utilized both morphological identification and genetic barcoding in validating the existence of the grey bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium griseum; the tawny nurse shark, Nebrius ferrugineus; the silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis; and the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, in these waters. This inventory provides an urgently needed assessment of current regional diversity patterns that can now be used as a baseline for future investigations evaluating the effect of fisheries on shark populations. Results emphasize the need for research on life history traits of the various species in order to determine their regional conservation status, but also reveal that a precautionary approach to conservation will be necessary to mitigate anthropogenic impacts.


Shark Species richness United Arab Emirates Management Conservation 



We are grateful for the grant from the United Arab Emirates University to Rima W. Jabado that supported this project. The genetic analysis of the samples was supported by the Save Our Seas Foundation. We are grateful to Kimberley Atwater for the laboratory genetic work and to the volunteers who participated in the field surveys, without whom this study would not have been possible.

Supplementary material

12526_2014_275_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (757 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 756 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rima W. Jabado
    • 1
    • 4
  • Saif M. Al Ghais
    • 1
  • Waleed Hamza
    • 1
  • Mahmood S. Shivji
    • 2
  • Aaron C. Henderson
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology Department, College of ScienceUnited Arab Emirates UniversityAl AinUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Save Our Seas Shark CenterNova Southeastern University Oceanographic CenterDania BeachUSA
  3. 3.The School for Field StudiesCenter for Marine Resource StudiesSouth CaicosTurks and Caicos Islands
  4. 4.Gulf Elasmo ProjectDubaiUnited Arab Emirates

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