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Size, sex and seasonal patterns in the assemblage of Carcharhiniformes in a sub-tropical bay


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Size, sex and seasonal patterns among Carcharhiniformes were examined in shallow regions of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. A total of 1259 sharks were caught, comprising 13 species. The Australian sharpnose shark Rhizoprionodon taylori and the blacktip complex Carcharhinus limbatusCarcharhinus tilstoni comprised 55% of all shark individuals. Neonates were observed for five species including the dusky shark Carcharhinus obscurus, which contrary to previous reports was relatively abundant in shallow, predominantly estuarine waters. Three contrasting patterns of occurrence were observed: smaller species were abundant and present throughout much of their ontogeny, larger species were mainly caught as neonates or juveniles and vagrant species were only caught during the warmer months. The shark assemblage differed significantly among seasons. While many species were observed during the warmer months, species diversity was lower in winter when C. obscurus comprised 43% of the catch. Overall, the results indicated that spatial and temporal distribution patterns were not synchronous for all species. The capture of small numbers of neonate C. obscurus in late autumn and winter demonstrates that parturition among Carcharhiniformes is not confined to spring and summer in sub-tropical waters.