Sharks of the Southwestern Indian Ocean
Abstract: Sharks are an amazingly diverse group of cartilaginous fish. Currently there are over 500 different species of sharks known with new species being discovered at a rate that surpasses any time since the invention of the scientific naming system developed by Linnaeus. Put briefly, my project investigates deep-water sharks of a remote region of the southwestern Indian Ocean (SWIO) and compiles life history information required for assessment and proper management in this currently unregulated fishing area. Life history data was collected during two surveys of the Madagascar ridge and include sex, length, maturity, reproduction, distribution, depth, and diet data. Additionally, an estimated 12 species of sharks encountered during these surveys are new to science and will be formally described to further taxonomic progress. Taxonomic clarity and basic life history information are the fundamental requirements needed to build effective management strategies for the world’s continually expanding deep-sea fisheries. If we are to continue our reliance on the ocean as a source of fish protein, we must acquire information to aid in the development of management legislation based on predictions of how groups will respond to harvest.