Age determination and growth of the night shark (Carcharhinus signatus) off the northeastern Brazilian coast


Santana, Francisco M., and Rosangela Lessa
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Age and growth of the night shark (Carcharhinus signatus) from areas off northeastern Brazil were determined from 317 unstained vertebral sections of 182 males (113–215 cm total length [TL]), 132 females (111.5–234.9 cm) and three individuals of unknown sex (169–242 cm).Although marginal increment (MI) analysis suggests that band formation occurs in the third and fourth trimesters in juveniles, it was inconclusive for adults. Thus, it was assumed that one band is formed annually. Births that occur over a protracted period may be the most important source of bias in MI analysis. An estimated average percent error of 2.4% was found in readings for individuals between two and seventeen years. The von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) showed no significant differences between sexes, and the model derived from back-calculated mean length at age best represented growth for the species (L∞=270 cm, K=0.11/yr, t0=–2.71 yr) when compared to the observed mean lengths at age and the Fabens’ method. Length-frequency analysis on 1055 specimens (93–260 cm) was used to verify age determination. Back-calculated size at birth was 66.8 cm and maturity was reached at 180–190 cm (age 8) for males and 200–205 cm (age ten) for females. Age composition, estimated from an age-length key, indicated that juveniles predominate in commercial catches, representing 74.3% of the catch. A growth rate of 25.4 cm/yr was estimated from birth to the first band (i.e. juveniles grow 38% of their birth length during the first year), and a growth rate of 8.55 cm/yr was estimated for eight- to ten-year-old adults.