Saving Endangered Porbeagle Sharks – Citizen Science Provides Critical Information To Manage Species

Source: Renaud/University of Western Ontario

Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons


Mackerel sharks are large, fast-swimming apex predators that include Hollywood heavy-hitters like great whites (Jaws), mako (Deep Blue Sea) and the now-extinct Megalodon (The Meg). One of the smallest mackerel sharks is the porbeagle—on average less than two metres long—and it’s one of the most critically endangered species of shark, too.

However, thanks to findings from a Western-led study, the porbeagles could be on its way to recovery after a half century of overfishing.

The study, Population structure and spatial distribution of porbeagles ( Lamna nasus ) in Irish waters, published by ICES Journal of Marine Science, includes valuable insights into porbeagle migratory patterns which will help shape long-term solutions for population management.

In the Atlantic Ocean, porbeagles have two fairly distinct populations: off eastern Canada between Newfoundland and South Carolina and a northeastern population between the Barents Sea (Norway-Russia) and Africa. The latter population has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to a long history of overfishing and exploitation.

After the population in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean crashed (and commercial fishing of porbeagles was subsequently banned), fisheries continued on Canada’s East Coast until 2013 and now this porbeagle  is also in danger.

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Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

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