African Journal of Marine Science

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Sharks caught in the KwaZulu-Natal bather protection programme, South Africa. 14. The smooth hammerhead shark Sphyrna zygaena (Linnaeus)

ML Dicken, H Winker, MJ Smale, G Cliff


The current study provides long-term catch-rate, biological and feeding data for smooth hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna zygaena, caught in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal bather protection programme. In total, 2 512 S. zygaena were caught in net installations between 1978 and 2014, and 72 S. zygaena were caught on drumlines between 2007 and 2014. There was no significant log-linear year trend in the net catch rate over time (slope = 0.0054, t = 1.808, p = 0.07). However, there was a significant temporal increase in mean size of the captured sharks (slope = 0.0012, t = 3.502, p < 0.001). A quasi-Poisson generalised additive mixed model showed that increasing latitude, winter months, colder sea temperatures and the deployment of drumlines all had a significant positive effect on the catch rate of sharks in nets. The size frequency of the catch was unimodal, with significantly more females caught in the nets and more males on the drumlines. The majority (93.1%) of all sharks caught were immature and measured between 80 and 120 cm precaudal length. Teleosts and cephalopods dominated the sharks’ diet in terms of all dietary indices. The prey species consumed indicate that immature S. zygaena are feeding primarily within the pelagic zone of shallow coastal habitats.

Keywords: CPUE, drumlines, generalised additive mixed model, length frequency, sex ratio, shark nets, stomach contents

AJOL African Journals Online