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Polar Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 493–504 | Cite as

Juvenile Greenland sharks Somniosus microcephalus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) in the Canadian Arctic

  • Nigel E. Hussey
  • Aurelie Cosandey-Godin
  • Ryan P. Walter
  • Kevin J. Hedges
  • Melanie VanGerwen-Toyne
  • Amanda N. Barkley
  • Steven T. Kessel
  • Aaron T. Fisk
Original Paper

Abstract

Life-stage-based management of marine fishes requires information on juvenile habitat preferences to ensure sustainable population demographics. This is especially important in the Arctic region given very little is known about the life histories of many native species, yet exploitation by developing commercial and artisanal fisheries is increasing as the ice extent decreases. Through scientific surveys and bycatch data from gillnet fisheries, we document captures of rarely reported juvenile Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus; ≤200 cm total length [TL]) during the ice-free period in the Canadian Arctic. A total of 22 juvenile animals (42 % of total catch; n = 54), including the smallest reliably measured individual of 117 cm TL, were caught on scientific longlines and bottom trawls in Scott Inlet and Sam Ford Trough over three consecutive years. Molecular genetic nuclear markers confirmed species identity for 44 of these sharks sampled; however, two sharks including a juvenile of 150 cm TL were identified as carrying a Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus) mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) haplotype. This represents the first record of a Pacific sleeper shark genetic signature in Greenland sharks in Eastern Arctic waters. Juvenile sharks caught as bycatch in gillnet fisheries were only observed offshore in Baffin Bay surrounding a fishery closure area, while larger subadult and mature Greenland sharks (>200 cm TL) were caught in all fishing locations, including areas where juveniles were observed. The repeatable occurrence of juvenile Greenland sharks in a fjord and their presence at two offshore sites indicates that these smaller animals either reside in nurseries or have defined home ranges in both coastal and offshore regions or undertake large-scale inshore–offshore movements.

Keywords

Greenland shark Pacific sleeper shark Nursery grounds Juvenile sharks Genetics Scott Inlet Sam Ford Trough Baffin Bay 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by Government of Nunavut funding to N.E.H., K.J.H. and A.T.F. and Ocean Tracking Network and Canada Research Chair funding to A.T.F. A.G. was supported by an NSERC Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship and funding from WWF-Canada. We thank the crew of the Nuliajuk and the Government of Nunavut for logistical support in the field to undertake fishing. S.M. Rusyaev is thanked for providing the capture locations of small Greenland sharks in the Barents Sea.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel E. Hussey
    • 1
  • Aurelie Cosandey-Godin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ryan P. Walter
    • 1
  • Kevin J. Hedges
    • 4
  • Melanie VanGerwen-Toyne
    • 4
  • Amanda N. Barkley
    • 1
  • Steven T. Kessel
    • 1
  • Aaron T. Fisk
    • 1
  1. 1.Great Lakes Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.WWF-CanadaHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Arctic Aquatic Research DivisionFisheries and Oceans CanadaWinnipegCanada

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