Observations on Abundance of Bluntnose Sixgill Sharks in an Urban Waterway in Puget Sound

paperPublished on 27. January 2014

Observations on Abundance of Bluntnose Sixgill Sharks, Hexanchus griseus, in an Urban Waterway in Puget Sound, 2003-2005

Denise Griffing, Shawn Larson, Joel Hollander, Tim Carpenter, Jeff Christiansen, Charles Doss


The bluntnose sixgill shark, Hexanchus griseus, is a widely distributed but poorly understood large, apex predator. Anecdotal reports of diver-shark encounters in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in the Pacific Northwest stimulated interest in the normally deep-dwelling shark and its presence in the shallow waters of Puget Sound. Analysis of underwater video documenting sharks at the Seattle Aquarium’s sixgill research site in Elliott Bay and mark-resight techniques were used to answer research questions about abundance and seasonality. Seasonal changes in relative abundance in Puget Sound from 2003–2005 are reported here. At the Seattle Aquarium study site, 45 sixgills were tagged with modified Floy visual marker tags, along with an estimated 197 observations of untagged sharks plus 31 returning tagged sharks, for a total of 273 sixgill observations recorded. A mark-resight statistical model based on analysis of underwater video estimated a range of abundance from a high of 98 sharks seen in July of 2004 to a low of 32 sharks seen in March of 2004. Both analyses found sixgills significantly more abundant in the summer months at the Seattle Aquarium’s research station.

PLoS ONE 9(1): e87081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087081



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