Carcharhinus plumbeus 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus plumbeus (Nardo, 1827)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Sandbar Shark
Carcharhinus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850)
Carcharhinus milberti (Müller & Henle, 1839)
Carcharias japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1850
Carcharias latistomus (Fang & Wang, 1932)
Carcharias ceruleus DeKay, 1842
Carcharias milberti Müller & Henle, 1839
Carcharias obtusirostris Moreau, 1881
Carcharias stevensi Ogilby, 1911
Carcharinus latistomus Fang & Wang, 1932
Eulamia milberti (Müller & Henle, 1839)
Galeolamna dorsalis Whitley, 1944
Galeolamna stevensi (Ogilby, 1911)
Lamna caudata DeKay, 1842
Squalus plumbeus Nardo, 1827
Squalus caecchia Nardo, 1847
Taxonomic Source(s): Compagno, L.J.V. 1973. Carcharhinidae. In: J.-C. Hureau and T. Monod (eds), Check-list of the fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean (CLOFNAM). Volume 1, pp. 23-31. Unesco, Paris.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A4d (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-09-25
Assessor(s): Ferretti, F., Walls, R., Musick, J., Stevens, J.D., Baum, J.K., Bradai, M.N., Fergusson, I., Grubbs, D., Soldo, A., Vacchi, M. & Vooren, C.M.
Reviewer(s): Dulvy, N.
Contributor(s): Fordham, S., Clò, S. & Buscher, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Pardo, S.A., Walls, R. & Dulvy, N.

European regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) is long-lived, with low fecundity and is consequently highly sensitive to overfishing. This species is an important component of shark fisheries in most areas where it occurs and has been intensively overexploited in both coastal and pelagic waters of the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. Catches have declined significantly along the Levantine coasts. Historically, Sandbar Shark was regularly seen in fish markets of southern Sicily and was recorded in most coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. However, it has not been observed in these markets in recent years. While the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia, and the Gulf of Gökova in Turkey appear to be important nursery grounds for this species, recent records in the Mediterranean Sea outside these areas are sporadic and there are none of gravid females. Past and future declines are estimated and projected to be of >70% over the three-generation period (69 years). Therefore, the species is assessed as Endangered under Criterion A4d in European waters, as this shark continues to be intensively fished and it is highly sensitive to overexploitation.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) occurs worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters. In the Eastern Central Atlantic, it occurs off Portugal, possibly Canary Islands and Madeira, Spain and Morocco (Ebert and Stehmann 2013). In the Mediterranean Sea, it occurs off Algeria, Corsica, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, France, Croatia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey (Dieuzeide et al. 1953, Capapé et al. 2000, Hadjichristophorou 2005). Its depth range is zero to 280 m.

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Montenegro; Morocco; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):280
Range Map:3853-1

Population [top]


A bottom longline survey carried out south of Dubrovnik (Croatia) in 1950 in the Adriatic Sea caught only one specimen of this shark, and it was considered to be quite rare in the Adriatic (Kirinčić and Lepetić 1955). It was common along all the Levantine coasts until the 1980s (Saad et al. 2004), where it was the most dominant species in shark catches (> 85%) (Baranes and Ben Tuvia 1978). Scientific surveys were carried out in the southeast Mediterranean Sea in 1998–2001 and 2003–2005, consisting of 62 Greek and Cypriot commercial longlining boats targeting Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga), with overall effort of almost a million set hooks; of 249 sharks caught in these surveys, 11 were identified as Sandbar Shark (Damalas and Megalofounou 2012). This survey highlighted a moderate but significant decline in species richness during the five years between the two study periods, as well as the relatively low catch rates compared with those reported for each species in other areas.

This shark is regularly landed and observed in fish markets in the Gulf of Gabès (Bradaï et al. 2006). Catch rate of this species in the Swordfish pelagic longline fishery of the Gulf of Gabès was 15.32 (+- 3.587 standard deviation) per 1,000 hooks. This species accounted for 94.14% of the elasmobranch catch in number, and the majority of the catches were juveniles (Bradaï et al. 2006). It is estimated that about 8,244.07 (+- 3775.84 sd) individuals were caught in the years 2007 and 2008 (Echwikhi et al. 2014). Sandbar Shark accounts for 4.5% of the elasmobranch catch in the gill net fishery of the Gulf of Gabès where an average of 0.4 individual per km2 of net per day are taken (Echwikhi et al. 2013). Here the estimated number of individuals caught per year is 332.7 and the portion of mature individuals is greater. Commercial landings in Tunisia increased between 1995 and 2004 from about 325 tonnes (t) per year in 1995 to about 450 t per year in 2004 (Bradaï et al. 2006).

The species is a known bycatch of pelagic fisheries operating within Mediterranean waters (STECF 2003), but recent records appear to be very rare. In a study of incidental catch of pelagic sharks from the Swordfish and tuna fisheries operating throughout the Mediterranean Sea from 1998-2000, only two specimens were recorded in one area (the Straits of Sicily; Megalofonou et al. 2005). There is no information available for this species from the southern Northeast Atlantic or Eastern Central Atlantic regions.

In the Mediterranean region, the species is estimated to have undergone a decline of 62.82% over seven years (1998-2005), inferred to have experienced a decline of 90.95% over 10 years (2005-2015) and projected to have a decline of 99.99% over 51 years (2015-2066), therefore experiencing a >70% decline over three generations (69 years) in European waters overall.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

A coastal shark, also categorized as “coastal-pelagic”, which is common on the continental shelf and at depths up to 280 m (Compagno 1984). It is often found in shallow waters associated with sandy or muddy flats, bays, estuaries and harbours, commonly down to salinities of 20 ppt in some populations (Grubbs et al. 2007). Also found further offshore, particularly on banks, near islands, flat reefs and other topographic features in open waters. This species occurs from the surfline down to 280 m (Ebert and Stehmann 2013), but typically in waters less than 100 m where it frequently forages near the seabed. In the Mediterranean Sea, it is caught down to 200 m by trawlers close to the bottom in Sicilian waters. Juveniles tend to occur in offshore temperate waters, while larger sharks mainly occur in tropical waters (McAuley et al. 2005).

Within the Mediterranean Sea, the smallest recorded mature females were 144 cm TL (Bauchot 1987), 147 cm total length (TL; Lipej et al. 2000) and 166 cm TL (Saïdi et al. 2005). Size at maturity for males was 154.5-160 cm TL, and for females 166-172 cm TL (Saïdi et al. 2005).

This species is live bearing with a yolk sac placenta. In the Gulf of Gabès, Saïdi et al. (2005) observed pupping season in spring and early summer, with parturition in July. Gestation was estimated at twelve months, with females reproducing every two years. Observed litter sizes ranged between four and ten pups, although an exceptional case was reported from the Tunisian coast, where a 192 cm TL female was carrying 16 embryos (Saïdi et al. 2006). Reported size at birth is much smaller in the Mediterranean Sea than other regions, ranging from 45–65 cm TL (Saïdi et al. 2005).

Neonates of 57 cm TL were captured at depths of 15-20 m off Yumurtalık coasts (Başusta and Erdem 2000). The Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia, and the Gökova Gulf in Turkey appear to be important nursery grounds for this species (Capapé 1984, Saïdi et al. 2005, Bradaï et al. 2006, STECF 2003). Constantini and Affronte (2003) reported that the northern Adriatic Sea might also be an important nursery area. The last record of a pregnant female of sandbar shark from this area was recorded in 1982 (Travaglini 1982, Constantini and Affronte 2003). Boncuk Bay is probably the best known nursery area for this shark in the Mediterranean  Sea (Öztürk 2006).

The annual population increase rate of this shark is low, varying from 2.5% to 11.9% between regions (Sminkey 1994, Sminkey and Musick 1996). The estimated generation length is approximately 23 years (McAuley et al. 2005), so this species grows slowly and also matures late. Longevity is 35-41 years (Musick 1995).

Generation Length (years):23

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Sandbar Shark represented at least 2-3% of the fins auctioned in Hong Kong, the world’s largest shark fin trading centre at that time (Clarke et al. 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Caught with trawls, surface and bottom longlines, gillnets, drift nets and tuna traps (“Tonnara”) in the Mediterranean Sea (Tudela et al. 2005, Bradaï et al. 2006, Echiwikhi et al. 2013, 2014). It is primarily threatened by bottom trawl fisheries and other artisanal and commercial fisheries throughout the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Central Atlantic.

Sandbar Shark is the most important shark species captured in the Gulf of Gabès (Bradaï et al. 2006). In this area, juveniles are caught with longlines and trawls and adult (and often gravid) females are targeted using specially-designed gillnets (locally known as “kallabia” from “kalb bhar”) during spring and early summer, when they move inshore to give birth (Saidi et al. 2005, Bradaï et al. 2006, Echwikhi et al. 2013).

This is a long-lived species with low fecundity and is very vulnerable to overfishing (Springer 1960, Casey et al. 1985, Sminkey and Musick 1995, 1996; McAuley et al. 2005); it has been severely overfished in the Mediterranean Sea. Habitat degradation of this species’ coastal nursery areas through coastal development and pollution also pose an important threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Management of target and bycatch fisheries is needed for this biologically vulnerable shark. It is also essential to improve data collection and develop stock assessments for this species. Family Carcharhinidae is listed as highly migratory under the 1995 United Nations Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA). The Agreement specifically requires coastal and fishing States to cooperate and adopt measures to ensure the conservation of listed species. To date, there has been little progress (see United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for further details). Also of relevance is the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks), which recommends that Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFOs) carry out regular shark population assessments and that member States cooperate on joint and regional shark management plans. This is of particular importance for species such as Sandbar Shark whose stocks are exploited by many States on the high seas. Steps are being taken by some RFOs, such as ICCAT, to collect species-specific data on pelagic sharks.

In 2013, the European Union (EU) banned the removal of shark fins on board vessels (Regulation No. 605/2013; CEC 2013), in line with advice from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Shark Specialist Group and other shark fishery experts, in order to enhance enforcement of the 2003 EU ban on shark finning (Regulation No. 1185/2003; CEC 2003) and facilitate improved shark fishery data collection.

According to the fishery bulletin published by General Directorate of Protection and Control, Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (bulletin no. 2/1 and 2/2, valid through 01.09.2008 to 31.08.2012), Sandbar Shark fisheries are currently prohibited in Turkey. Moreover, in the easternmost part of Gökova Gulf, all kinds of trawl fishing and purse seining are forbidden. This fishing restriction are aimed at the conservation of sandbar sharks (Bilecenoglu 2008).

Further research should be conducted on the population size and trend of the species.

Citation: Ferretti, F., Walls, R., Musick, J., Stevens, J.D., Baum, J.K., Bradai, M.N., Fergusson, I., Grubbs, D., Soldo, A., Vacchi, M. & Vooren, C.M. 2015. Carcharhinus plumbeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T3853A48946805. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided