African Journal of Marine Science

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Sharks caught in the protective gill nets off Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. 9. The spinner shark carcharhinus brevipinna (Müller and Henle)

BR Allen, G Cliff


A total of 2 728 spinner sharks Carcharhinus brevipinna was caught in nets that protect the swimming beaches of KwaZulu-Natal between 1978 and 1997. The species constituted 10.3% of the total shark catch during that
period. An average of 136 spinner sharks was caught annually, with no trend in catch rate over the study period. The species was caught throughout the year, predominantly in the south and mainly from February to July. Males matured at approximately 150 cm precaudal length and females at 154 cm. Gonad indices in mature males were highest during December and January and in females during February and March. Mating takes place between January and March. The hepatosomic index of pregnant females was highest at the onset of pregnancy and lowest at parturition. Evidence suggests a two-year reproductive cycle in females, with a gestation period of 13–18 months. The average litter size was nine, with an estimated length at birth of between 50 and 60 cm. Near-term pregnant females were caught mainly in the north, indicating the possibility of a nursery there. Both large and small pregnant females produce pups of the same length, but larger females generally have larger litters.
Regional, seasonal and size variations were evident in the diet, with teleosts being the most frequently eaten prey.

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