Shark aggregation in coastal waters of British Columbia
Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 414 Pages: 249-256
2010 | Learn More
AbstractA concentration of pelagic sharks was observed in an area of western Queen Charlotte Sound, British Columbia, during systematic shipboard line-transect surveys conducted (2004 to 2006) for marine mammals throughout coastal waters of British Columbia. Surveys allowed only brief observations of sharks at the surface, providing limited opportunity to confirm species identity. Observers agreed, however, that salmon sharks Lamna ditropis (Lamnidae) were most common, followed by blue sharks Prionace glauca (Carcharhinidae). Both conventional and model-based distance sampling statistical methods produced large abundance estimates (~20000 sharks of all species combined) concentrated within a hotspot encompassing ~10% of the survey region. Neither statistical method accounted for submerged animals, thereby underestimating abundance. Sightings were made in summer, corresponding with southern movement of pregnant salmon sharks from Alaska. The previously undocumented high density of these pelagic sharks in this location has implications for understanding at-sea mortality of returning Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. (Salmonidae) and for assessing conservation status of sharks in Canada and beyond. We recommend that a dedicated Canada-US sightings and biological sampling programme be considered, perhaps under the UN Transboundary Species Fishery programme.