Carcharhinus plumbeus 

Scope: Mediterranean
Language: English

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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: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-03-25
Assessor(s): Ferretti, F., Walls, R.H.L., Musick, J., Stevens, J., Baum, J.K., Bradai, M.N., Fergusson, I., Grubbs, D., Soldo, A., Vacchi, M. & Vooren, C.M.
Reviewer(s): Dulvy, N.K. & Allen, D.J.
Contributor(s): Fordham, S., Clò, S. & Buscher, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Dulvy, N.K.
Mediterranean regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

The Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) is long-lived, however with low fecundity and is consequently highly sensitive to overfishing. This species is an important component of shark fisheries in most areas of occurrence 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, the 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. Although 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 Sandbar Shark is assessed as Endangered under Criterion A4d in the Mediterranean Sea, as it continues to be intensively fished with no signs of decreasing fishing effort in the region. Further research should be conducted on the population size and trend of the species, and management of target and bycatch fisheries is needed.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Sandbar Shark occurs worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters. In the Mediterranean Sea it occurs throughout continental shelf waters 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 from 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; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):280
Range Map:3853-3

Population [top]


In the Mediterranean region, the Sandbar Shark 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 (2005–15) and projected to have a decline of 99.99% over 51 years (2015–66), therefore experiencing a >70% decline over three generations (69 years).

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 Sea (Kirinčić and Lepetić 1955). The Sandbar Shark 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 2003–05, consisting of 62 Greek and Cypriot commercial longlining vessels 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 the 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.

The Sandbar 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; sd) 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). The Sandbar Shark accounts for 4.5% of the elasmobranch catch in the gillnet fishery of the Gulf of Gabès where an average of 0.4 individuals 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 ~325 tonnes (t) per year in 1995 to ~450 t per year in 2004 (Bradaï et al. 2006).

This 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).

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 2001). 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 <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 total length (TL; Bauchot 1987), 147 cm TL (Lipej et al. 2000) and 166 cm TL (Saïdi et al2005). Size at maturity for males was 154.5–160 cm TL, and for females 166–172 cm TL (Saïdi et al. 2005).

The Sandbar Shark is live bearing with a yolk sac placenta. In the Gulf of GabèsSaïdi 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, STECF 2003, Saïdi et al. 2005, Bradaï et al. 2006). Costantini and Affronte (2003) reported that the northern Adriatic Sea might also be an important nursery area. The last record of a pregnant female from this area was from 1982 (Travaglini 1982, Costantini and Affronte 2003). Boncuk Bay is probably the best known nursery area for this shark in the Mediterranean Sea (Öztürk 2006).

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

Generation Length (years):23
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The 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 of Clarke et al.'s (2006) study.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This carcharhinid is 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.

The Sandbar Shark is the most commonly caught shark species 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 sensitive 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 a significant threat in this semi-enclosed sea.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no species-specific measures in place in the Mediterranean Sea. 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 the Sandbar Shark (Bilecenoğlu 2008).

Further research should be conducted on the population size and trend. Management of target and bycatch fisheries is needed for this biologically sensitive shark.

Citation: Ferretti, F., Walls, R.H.L., Musick, J., Stevens, J., Baum, J.K., Bradai, M.N., Fergusson, I., Grubbs, D., Soldo, A., Vacchi, M. & Vooren, C.M. 2016. Carcharhinus plumbeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3853A16527809. . Downloaded on 23 September 2018.
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