Sharks are globally exposed to several anthropogenic threats, which, in many cases, have severely reduced their distribution and have impacted populations. In the Mediterranean Sea, because of its long history of exploitation and the relatively short span of scientific monitoring, reconstructing shark baselines is challenging. Many vulnerable species declined in population abundance and geographic distribution before it was possible to adequately track these changes. Consequently, for many of these species, current conservation assessments are now suffering from a severe case of shifting baseline syndrome, whereby their historical occurrence in the area is questioned.The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) is one of these cases. Characterized by high philopatry, restricted home range, and low interchange between populations, its Mediterranean population may have been severely impacted by the high historical fishing pressure in the region before scientific monitoring began.In this study, the history of the abundance and distribution of C. taurus in the Mediterranean Sea was reconstructed through a comprehensive search of occurrence records in the literature and in museum collections. Between 1810 and 2008, 31 occurrence records and 54 publications provided information on the presence of the species in the area. These records were sparse but systematic over time and indicated occurrence hot spots in the south-western Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Adriatic Sea.The presence of ten sightings of juveniles from a total of 18 sightings with length information suggested local parturition. Habitat and extinction models indicate that the area has suitable oceanographic conditions for the occurrence of the species and that the species cannot be considered extinct in the Mediterranean Sea. Our study suggests that there is still hope for the recovery of the species and underlines the crucial role of historical investigations to reconstruct the history of large elasmobranchs in the Mediterranean Sea.
Reconstructing the history of the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) in the Mediterranean Sea / Bargnesi, F.; Gridelli, S.; Cerrano, C.; Ferretti, F.. - In: AQUATIC CONSERVATION. - ISSN 1099-0755. - 30:5(2020), pp. 915-927. [10.1002/aqc.3301]