Catch Records of White Sharks in the Northwest Pacific OceanPublished on 16. April 2014
The Last Frontier: Catch Records of White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the Northwest Pacific Ocean
Heather M. Christiansen, Victor Lin, Sho Tanaka, Anatoly Velikanov, Henry F. Mollet, Sabine P. Wintner, Sonja V. Fordham, Aaron T. Fisk, Nigel E. Hussey
White sharks are highly migratory apex predators, globally distributed in temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical waters. Knowledge of white shark biology and ecology has increased recently based on research at known aggregation sites in the Indian, Atlantic, and Northeast Pacific Oceans; however, few data are available for the Northwest Pacific Ocean. This study provides a meta-analysis of 240 observations of white sharks from the Northwest Pacific Ocean between 1951 and 2012. Records comprise reports of bycatch in commercial fisheries, media accounts, personal communications, and documentation of shark-human interactions from Russia (n = 8), Republic of Korea (22), Japan (129), China (32), Taiwan (45), Philippines (1) and Vietnam (3). Observations occurred in all months, excluding October-January in the north (Russia and Republic of Korea) and July-August in the south (China, Taiwan, Philippines, and Vietnam). Population trend analysis indicated that the relative abundance of white sharks in the region has remained relatively stable, but parameterization of a 75% increase in observer effort found evidence of a minor decline since 2002. Reliably measured sharks ranged from 126–602 cm total length (TL) and 16–2530 kg total weight. The largest shark in this study (602 cm TL) represents the largest measured shark on record worldwide. For all countries combined the sex ratio was non-significantly biased towards females (1:1.1; n = 113). Of 60 females examined, 11 were confirmed pregnant ranging from the beginning stages of pregnancy (egg cases) to near term (140 cm TL embryos). On average, 6.0±2.2 embryos were found per litter (maximum of 10) and gestation period was estimated to be 20 months. These observations confirm that white sharks are present in the Northwest Pacific Ocean year-round. While acknowledging the difficulties of studying little known populations of a naturally low abundance species, these results highlight the need for dedicated research to inform regional conservation and management planning.
PLoS ONE 9(4): e94407. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094407