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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Caribbean reef sharks Carcharhinus perezi–a commercially targeted species in the region–patrol the coral reef in Belize. Photo: © Caine Delacy 2017

Bond ME, Valentin-Albanese J, Babcock EA, Abercrombie D, Lamb NF, Miranda A, Pikitch EK, Chapman DD


Abundance and size structure of a reef shark population within a marine reserve has remained stable for more than a decade

A longline survey time-series spanning more than a decade was conducted within a well-established marine reserve in Belize. Catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) and mean total length metrics of Caribbean reef sharks Carcharhinus perezi were recorded to examine changes in population abundance and in the size of individuals. No significant differences of CPUE and mean total lengths were detected over time, though CPUE was higher on the forereef habitat compared to the lagoon itself. Results demonstrate a stable population trend for the commercially targeted Caribbean reef sharks inside the marine reserve. Thus this study demonstrates that marine protected areas can be an effective conservation approach to protect reef-associated shark species, which regionally hold alternative value through shark dive tourism. 



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