In October 2011, PIP Photographer Andy Murch
traveled to Cape Eleuthera to document the deep water shark project
being conducted by Edd Brooks of the Cape Eleuthera Institute.
Through the kind cooperation of Dr Brooks and CEI, Andy was able to
obtain images of common gulper sharks which are listed as
'vulnerable' by the IUCN. Cuban dogfish and bigeye sixgill sharks
were also documented during the expedition.
The common gulper shark
Centrophorus granulosus is listed as 'vulnerable' by the IUCN.
Due to unregulated deep sea fishing, numbers continue to decrease.
The gulper shark is especially vulnerable because it has one of the
lowest reproductive rates of any vertebrate. After a very slow
maturity, the common gulper shark undergoes a two year gestation
that produces just one offspring. The gulper shark then undertakes
an extensive rest period before mating again.
Although gulper sharks are
completely unable to sustain any external pressure on their numbers,
they are the subject of a growing fishery targeting deepwater
species for shark liver oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
bigeye sixgill shark Hexanchus nakamurai is rarely encontered
by fishermen and is therefore listed as 'data deficient' by the IUCN.
However, a footnote on the IUCN listing of this species points out
that the species may be under growing pressure with the expansion of
deep water fisheries and there is an urgent need to collect
species-specific catch data to determine accurate population trends.
Cuban dogfish Squalus cubensis is also 'data deficient' by the IUCN
notes that this species is under possible threat from a potential
increase of deep sea fisheries. Further studies are warranted to
establish population trends.