Scientia Marina, Vol 79, No 4 (2015)

Size of catch, reproduction and feeding of the small-eye smooth-hound, Mustelus higmani (Carcharhiniformes: Triakidae), in Margarita Island, Venezuela

Alejandro Tagliafico
Escuela de Ciencias Aplicadas del Mar, Boca de Río, Universidad de Oriente - National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

Iván Hernández-Ávila
Departamento de Ciencias, Núcleo de Nueva Esparta, Universidad de Oriente - Laboratoire d´Environnement Profond, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

Salomé Rangel
National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University - Departamento de Ciencias, Núcleo de Nueva Esparta, Universidad de Oriente, Spain

Néstor Rago
Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Costa Rica


Mustelus higmani is categorized as “least concern” according to the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but gaps in population trends occur in most of its distribution range. In Venezuela, this species has local importance because it is part of typical dishes. The aim of this work is to analyse the population structure, reproduction and feeding of M. higmani from Margarita Island’s artisanal fishery landings for management purposes. Between 2006 and 2008, 2223 specimens were analysed: 1156 females (24.8-88.4 cm total length [TL]) and 1067 males (20-69.2 cm TL). Temporal variations in sex ratio and length class structure were detected. Changes in body size were detected throughout different years of sampling. A decrease in TL and an increase in immature specimens in the catch were observed in 2008. Mean length at maturity (L50) was estimated at 46.7 cm TL for females and 47.6 cm TL for males. Female fecundity was 4±1.8 embryos (n=388). Length at birth was between 20 and 29 cm TL, and no differences in sex ratio were detected for embryos. Feeding analyses (n=266 stomachs) showed a diet mainly based on decapod crustaceans, small fish, stomatopods and cephalopods. The trophic level was 3.3, which shows feeding based on benthic and demersal species of the continental shelf, especially crustaceans.


shark fishery; elasmobranch; Chondrichthyes; artisanal fishery; Caribbean

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