Mustelus lunulatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Triakidae

Scientific Name: Mustelus lunulatus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882
Common Name(s):
English Sicklefin Smoothhound
Spanish Musola Segadora
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 1 July 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 1 July 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: This species may have been misidentified for other Mustelus spp. in the Gulf of California, including M. californicus. Records of this species from South America refer to another undescribed lunulatus-type Mustelus species. This lunulatus-type Mustelus occurs in the Eastern Pacific to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and has likely been recorded as M. lunulatus in South America in the past (see Compagno in prep. for discussion).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-01-26
Assessor(s): Pérez-Jiménez, J., White, C.F., Ruiz, C., Carlisle, A.B. & Lowe, C.G
Reviewer(s): Nosal, A.P., Chabot, C.L. & Cordova, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M., Lawson, J., Walls, R.H.L., Ebert, D.A. & Dulvy, N.K.
The Sicklefin Smoothhound (Mustelus lunulatus) is a demersal shark found from southern California to Panama in the eastern Pacific. It occurs at depths ranging from 9 to 144 m, but most often found at depths shallower than 100 m. It is both targeted and taken as bycatch in trawl and gillnet fisheries.

There is no evidence to suggest that this species has declined, but there are few species-specific data available as this species is part of a species complex. Although recent studies have resolved the taxonomic confusion in certain areas like the Gulf of California, catch data is still needed to understand the impact of bycatch and target fisheries on this species. Given that fishing pressure is continuing, catch levels need to be quantified to species level and catch and population trends should be assessed and monitored carefully. The Sicklefin Smoothhound is a relatively fast-growing, moderately fecund shark and, in the absence of any evidence to suggest significant declines, it is assessed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Sicklefin Smoothhound is found in the eastern Pacific from Southern California to Panama (Compagno 1984, Campos 1986, Eschmeyer and Herald 1999, Compagno 2001, Herrera et al. 2003, Castro 2011).
Countries occurrence:
Costa Rica (Costa Rica (mainland)); El Salvador; Guatemala; Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Sonora); Nicaragua (Nicaragua (mainland)); Panama; United States (California)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):144
Upper depth limit (metres):9
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No species-specific data are available on the magnitude of Sicklefin Smoothhound catches. This species is considered common from southern California to the Gulf of California (Castro 1996).

In the northeastern Gulf of California (in the coastal waters of the Mexican state of Sonora), smoothhounds (excluding Mustelus henlei), represent 7.4% of all individuals harvested, but this catch varies seasonally and smoothhounds could represent as high as 78% of catches during the winter months (Bizzarro et al. 2009a). The fishery off of the Mexican state of Sonora harvests a considerable number of individuals and represents the largest contribution to shark landings in the Gulf of California. The Sicklefin Smoothhound and other small shark species (Rhizoprionodon longurio, M. californicus and M. henlei) make seasonal migrations during the autumn and winter months, and during this time can be caught in numbers from 1,200-1,500 individuals per fishing trip (Marquez-Farias 2000).

Off the coast of Baja California Sur, smoothhounds appear to be a relatively small component of the artisanal fishery catch. Estimates ranged from a smoothhound catch composition of 2.5% (excluding Mustelus henlei; Cartamil et al. 2011) to <4% of total catches across all seasons (Bizzarro et al. 2009b). At carcass discard sites, smoothhounds represented 0.53% of all individuals identified.

In Guatemala the Sicklefin Smoothhound is also taken as bycatch from May to August in drift gillnets with the largest catches estimated up to 100-200 kg per boat (C. Ruiz pers. obs.). Off Colombia, the Sicklefin Smoothhound was the most commonly encountered species of shark when shrimp trawl bycatch species were sampled, representing 32% of captured individuals (Navia et al. 2007).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is an abundant, bottom-dwelling shark found close to shore (Compagno 1984). In the northern Gulf of California, it is abundant mainly at depths < 100 m, although it has been caught from 9-144 m (Pérez-Jiménez and Sosa-Nishizaki 2010). The upper Gulf of California (the northernmost region of the northern Gulf of California) may be a nursery area for this small shark species, as pregnant females with terminal embryos and ovulatory and post-partum females have been observed in this area from February to May (Pérez-Jiménez 2006).

Smoothhounds are fast growing group of species that are typically characterized by a low longevity compared to other sharks, and an early age at first maturity. The Sicklefin Smoothhound is a placental, viviparous species with a relatively high fecundity. In the northern Gulf of California females will produce 6-19 pups annually after a gestation length of 11 months; with larger females producing more embryos (Pérez-Jiménez and Sosa-Nishizaki 2010). Size at birth is 28-34 cm total length (TL; Pérez-Jiménez and Sosa-Nishizaki 2010). Females reach maturity at 103.2 cm TL (six years) whereas males reach maturity at 91.5 cm TL (2.5 years; Escobedo-Olvera 2006, Pérez-Jiménez and Sosa-Nishizaki 2010). Reported maximum size is 175 cm TL (Love et al. 2005), and longevity is 22 years. No species-specific generation length estimates were available, so a generation length of 15 years was used based on information from six congeners.
Generation Length (years):15

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The flesh of this species is used for human consumption and the fins are exported.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In the northern Gulf of California, Mustelus species have been caught by the artisanal fleet since the 1980s (Cudney and Turk 1998). This species is also targeted and caught as bycatch in medium size trawl vessels, which have operated since 1996 (Sustentabilidad y Pesca Responsible en México: Evaluación y manejo 1997-1998). These 59 shrimp trawler vessels obtained fishing permits to target finfish and elasmobranch species from April to May (at depths of less than 100 m), and they also catch this species as bycatch from September to January (Pérez-Jiménez 2006). Although no data are available on the magnitude of catches, this species may be frequently caught because the shrimp fishery operates within this species' depth range. Off the coast of Nayarit state, Mexico, fisheries operating in the Tres Marias Islands reported to target this species using longlines and gillnets, and often also encountered this shark as bycatch when targeting larger sharks (Pérez-Jiménez et al. 2005). Despite continuing fishing pressure, there is no evidence to suggest that this species has declined. Artisanal fishing communities travel long distances (up to 180 km) in order to locate smoothhounds, which are targeted by fishing communities primarily in the summer months (Moreno-Báez et al. 2010). They are also targeted within existing marine protected areas using gill nets or long lines (Moreno-Báez et al. 2010).

The Sicklefin Smoothhound is also taken as bycatch in drift gillnets in Guatemala, and off Colombia in shrimp trawl bycatch.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no species-specific conservation measures in place. An ecosystem-based model suggested that the artisanal gillnet fishery operating in the Northern Gulf of California is over-capacity, and needs to decrease by 52-57% (Lercari and Arreguín‐Sánchez 2009). In Mexico there is a closed season for shark fishing from May to July, that has been in place since 2012.

Smoothhounds are frequently caught in artisanal fisheries, however, species-specific information is lacking as many species are currently grouped together. This information is needed to identify the impact of fisheries on the Sicklefin Smoothhound (Pérez-Jiménez et al. 2005).

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Bizzarro, J.J., Smith, W.D., Hueter, R.E., and Villavicencio-Garayzar, C.J. 2009b. Activities and catch composition of artisanal elasmobranch fishing sites on the eastern coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 108: 137-151.

Bizzarro, J.J. Smith, W.D., Marquez-Farias, J.F., Tyminski, J. and Heuter, R.E. 2009a. Temporal variation in the artisanal elasmobranch fishery of Sonora, Mexico. Fisheries Research 97: 103-117.

Campos, J.A. 1986. Fauna de acompañamiento del camarón en el Pacífico de Costa Rica. Rev. Trop. Biol. 34(2): 185-197.

Cartamil, D., Santana-Morales, O., Escobedo-Olvera, M., Kacev, D., Castillo-Geniz, L., Graham, J.B., Rubin, R.D. and Sosa-Nishizaki, O. 2011. The artisanal elasmobranch fishery of the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico. Fisheries Research 108: 393-403.

Castro, J. I. 1996.. The sharks of north American waters. Texas AM University Press.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. Sharks of the World: an annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Part 2. Carcharhiniformes. FAO, Rome.

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Volume 3. Carcharhiniformes. FAO, Rome.

Cudney-Bueno, R. and Turk-Boyer, P.J. 1998. Pescando entre mareas del Alto Golfo de California. Una guía sobre la pesca artesanal, su gente y sus propuestas de manejo. A.C. Technical Series No 1.. Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos.

Eschmeyer, W.M. and Herald, E.S. 1999. Structural and seasonal dynamics of fish assemblage of Cabrillo Bay area in Los Angeles Harbor, California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 82(2): 47-70.

Eschmeyer, W.N., Herald, E.S. and Hammann, H. 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, USA.

Herrera, M., Zarate, P. and Gaibor, N. 2003. Tiburones en las Pesquerias del Ecuador. Instituto Nacional de Pesca.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Lercari, D. and Arreguín‐Sánchez, F. 2009. An ecosystem modelling approach to deriving viable harvest strategies for multispecies management of the Northern Gulf of California. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 19: 384-397.

Love, M., Mecklenburg, C.W., Mecklenburg, T.A. and Thorsteinson, L.K. 2005. Resource Inventory of Marine and Estuarine Fishes of the West Coast and Alaska: A Checklist of North Pacific and Arctic Ocean Species from Baja California to the Alaska–Yukon Border. U. S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, OCS Study MMS 2005-030 and USGS/NBII 2005-001, Seattle, Washington.

Marquez-Farias, F. 2000. Tiburones del Golfo de California. In: SEMARNAP "Sustentabilidad y Pesca Responsable en México: Evaluación y Manejo 1999-2000", pp. 237-257. INP, SEMARNAP, México.

Moreno-Báez, M., Orr, B.J., Cudney-Bueno, R. and Shaw, W.W. 2010. Using fishers' local knowledge to aid management at regional scales: spatial distribution of small-scale fisheries in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 86: 339-353.

Navia, A.F., Mejia-Falla, P.A. and Giraldo, A. 2007. Feeding ecology of elasmobranch fishes in coastal waters of the Colombian Eastern Tropical Pacific. BMC Ecology 7: 8.

Pérez-Jiménez, J.C. 2006. Biología y taxonomía de los tiburones del género Mustelus (Elasmobranchii) de la región norte del Golfo de California. PhD Thesis, CICESE.

Pérez-Jiménez, J.C. and Sosa-Nishizaki, O. 2010. Determining reproductive parameters for population assessments of two smoothhounds (Mustelus californicus and Mustelus lunulatus) from the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 86(1): 3-13.

Pérez-Jiménez, J.C., Sosa-Nishizaki, O. and Castillo-Geniz, J.L. 2005. A New Eastern North Pacific Smoothhound Shark (Genus Mustelus, Family Triakidae) from the Gulf of California. Copeia 2005(4): 834-845.

Sustentabilidad y Pesca Responsable en México. 1998. Evaluación y Manejo (1997-1998). Tiburones del Pacífico Mexicano. Pesquería Artesanal. Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca. Instituto Nacional de la Pesca.

Citation: Pérez-Jiménez, J., White, C.F., Ruiz, C., Carlisle, A.B. & Lowe, C.G. 2016. Mustelus lunulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T161640A80672480. . Downloaded on 22 July 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