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Bayesian age and growth analysis of the shortfin mako shark Isurus oxyrinchus in the Western South Atlantic Ocean using a flexible model

Abstract

Age and growth estimates of shortfin mako sharks Isurus oxyrinchus from the western South Atlantic Ocean were obtained through the analysis of vertebral sections of 245 specimens (126 females, 116 males and 3 with undetermined sex), ranging in size from 78 to 330 cm fork length (FL), using a flexible growth model (Schnute model) and a Bayesian approach. A significant linear relationship was found between FL and vertebral radius for sexes combined. Marginal increment analyses were inconclusive about periodicity of growth band deposition and an annual periodicity was assumed to make age estimations. Specimens were estimated to be between 0 and 28 years of age. The Schnute model provided a good description of the individual growth for both sexes up to 15 years of age. Shortfin mako growth during the first year of life was 33.9 cm (ICr95% = 19.9–40.8) for females and 30.5 cm (ICr95% = 25.6–35.4) for males. Until approximately 15 years of age, both sexes showed similar growth and reached ~217 cm FL. Sigmoid shaped growth curves obtained for both sexes indicated a change in the growth pattern close to 7 years of age. Inconclusive results about periodicity of growth band deposition in the study area make necessary the application of more robust validation techniques in the future. Meanwhile, a precautionary approach that assumes an annual deposition pattern in the western South Atlantic can be used for the assessment and management of stocks of this species, characterized by low fecundity and late maturity.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the scholarship provided to the first author. We thank the Oceanographic Museum Univali and its Program of Life Resources Survey at the Rio Grande Rise, in the person of Jules M. R. Soto for logistic support of the field work. We are grateful to fishery firm Kowalsky Ind. e Com. Ltda. for permission to embark in the fishing vessels Yamaya III and Macedo IV, and especially to Captain Miranda and his crew members for their generous cooperation at sea. We also thank scientific observers who collected additional vertebrae and F. Mas for its contribution in vertebral processing. Thanks to the Laboratório de Mamíferos Marinhos (Instituto de Oceanografía, FURG) and Laboratorio de Edad y Crecimiento (DINARA), especially Inés Lorenzo, for logistical support provided for vertebrae processing. Special thanks to Gregor Cailliet, Jorge Pablo Castello and Manuel Haimovici for their valuable suggestions and comments to the manuscript. This research is part of the M.Sc. Dissertation written by the first author under the guidance of the second and last authors.

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Correspondence to Florencia Doño.

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Doño, F., Montealegre-Quijano, S., Domingo, A. et al. Bayesian age and growth analysis of the shortfin mako shark Isurus oxyrinchus in the Western South Atlantic Ocean using a flexible model. Environ Biol Fish 98, 517–533 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-014-0284-1

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Keywords

  • Isurus oxyrinchus
  • Age and growth
  • Schnute growth model
  • Bayesian approach