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Keywords:

  • catch rate;
  • cumulative distribution function;
  • distribution;
  • migration

Abstract

The porbeagle (Lamna nasus) is a large fast-swimming pelagic shark found at high latitudes in both hemispheres. To examine the influence of temperature on porbeagle distribution, a detailed analysis of the relationship between catch rate, temperature, depth and location was carried out based on 420 temperature profiles taken during commercial fishing operations. More than half of the porbeagle were caught at temperatures of 5–10°C (at the depth of the hook); the mean temperature at gear of 7.4°C differed very little among seasons. Most of the spring fishing took place near fronts, although the affinity with fronts was not evident in the fall. Temperature at depth was a significant modifier of catch rate when included in a generalized linear model controlling for the effects of location, fishing vessel, month and year. However, sea surface temperature was a poor predictor of catch rate. The similarity between environmental and catch-weighted cumulative distribution functions confirmed suggestions that fishers sought out the most appropriate temperature range in which to set their gear. As porbeagle are among the most cold tolerant of pelagic shark species, we suggest that they have evolved to take advantage of their thermoregulating capability by allowing them to seek out and feed on abundant coldwater prey in the absence of non-thermoregulating competitors.