Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Elasmobranch diversity around the southern Caribbean island of Tobago: Opportunities for conservation in a regional trade hub

Cook, Neil D., Clementi, Gina M., Flowers, Kathryn I., Fanovich, Lanya, Cable, Jo ORCID:, Perkins, Sarah E. ORCID:, Wothke, Aljoscha, Mohammed, Ryan S. and Chapman, Demian D. 2024. Elasmobranch diversity around the southern Caribbean island of Tobago: Opportunities for conservation in a regional trade hub. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 104 , e8. 10.1017/S0025315423000917

[thumbnail of Cook et al 2024.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (340kB) | Preview


Sharks are scarce in much of the Caribbean due to widespread depletion. Trinidad and Tobago, in the southern Caribbean, is a shark meat consumer and international exporter of dried shark fins. Despite limited fisheries management there is a small Marine Protected Area (MPA; 7 km2) in urbanised southwest Tobago, but its effect on sharks and rays (elasmobranchs) is unknown. The rural northeast is a recently designated UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve with a significant marine component and plans for a large MPA, but no baseline data for elasmobranchs exist. Given the local importance of elasmobranchs and a newly drafted Sustainable Shark and Ray Management Plan, we used baited remote underwater video stations within a 40 m depth contour at 270 randomly generated points around Tobago to: (i) establish a baseline of species richness and relative abundance, (ii) investigate the influence of season, habitat relief, depth and water temperature on relative abundance, and (iii) investigate spatial variation in relative abundance. Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, and southern stingrays were observed at all sites, the latter two more frequently in the urbanised southwest. Shark diversity was unexpectedly high in the northeast, driven by rarer species (sharpnose, smoothhound, tiger, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead) only observed there. Habitat relief, depth and season likely influence relative abundance of elasmobranchs around Tobago, but research is needed to elucidate species-level effects. Shark species richness in northeast Tobago is high for the Caribbean, warranting research attention, while the larger MPA presents an opportunity to strengthen elasmobranch management.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0025-3154
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 17 November 2023
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2024 14:22

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics