Log In

Reset Password

New shark is added to list of Bermuda’s fish fauna

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
A photograph of the ragged-tooth shark caught and released in Bermuda (Photograph by Mark Terceira)

A new species of shark has been added to the list of Bermuda’s fish fauna.

The ragged-tooth shark was discovered in Bermuda’s waters after a fisherman caught and released it of the east coast of the island in 2020.

Mark Terceira brought the shark to the surface and took some photographs which he shared with the Marine Resources staff at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The photos came to the attention of Jeremy Higgs, of the Gulf Coast Research Lab at the University of Southern Mississippi, who has been tracking observations of the ragged-tooth shark.

The DENR’s EnviroTalk newsletter outlines information from a recent article that Dr Higgs published with colleagues which constitutes the official record of the species for Bermuda.

The newsletter said: “Fortunately, Mr Terceira’s photographs captured all the key identifying features of this species, including the distinctive shape of its head and the relative size, shape and placement of the fins.

“The flattened head with a long, conical snout, large first dorsal fin compared to the second dorsal, and even grey-brown colouration are important identifiers of the ragged-tooth shark.

“Captures or sightings from places as distant as the Canary Islands and New Zealand indicate this species inhabits depths as shallow as 3.5 feet and as deep as 3,000 feet, although shallow encounters are rare.

“As a result, even shark experts know little about the life cycle of this species because of the small number of specimens that have been examined.”

The ragged-tooth shark is automatically protected under a recent law change to protect and manage sharks in Bermuda waters.

Shark fishing is generally prohibited in Bermuda though commercial fishermen can apply for a special licence to catch limited amounts of the Galapagos shark, the gummy shark and the deep-dwelling six-gill shark.

A drawing of the ragged-tooth shark (Image supplied)

The shark caught in Bermuda was male and, based on its size, is likely mature. Mr Terceira estimated the length of the shark to be about nine feet.

Based on the biology of closely related lamnid sharks, it is assumed the ragged-tooth shark produces about two pups per year.

The newsletter continues: “With this extremely low predicted birth rate and the general paucity of information about the species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has assigned a precautionary assessment of ‘Vulnerable’ for the ragged-tooth shark on their Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is considered the most comprehensive inventory of the conservation status of animals globally.”

The shark caught in Bermuda was fished in 2,400ft waters. It is the deepest-known capture of this species in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Previous studies on the deep slope around the Bermuda platform noted lophelia deepwater corals in the area where Mr Terceira was fishing and these corals have also been present in conjunction with other observations of ragged-tooth sharks from the western North Atlantic,” the newsletter added.

“Dr Higgs believes that future studies should investigate both deepwater coral habitats and deep-slope areas around the region in an effort to further describe the preferred habitat of ragged-tooth sharks.

“With a better understanding of their distribution and habitat preferences, it may be possible to adjust fishing practices in order to reduce the chances of capturing this vulnerable species.”

A summary of the paper on this shark is available online at https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2021.0045, a hard copy is available in the library of the Natural History Museum at Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo, or PDFs can be requested by e-mail at fisheries@gov.bm.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 27, 2022 at 7:32 am (Updated September 27, 2022 at 7:32 am)

New shark is added to list of Bermuda’s fish fauna

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon