Climate-driven deoxygenation elevates fishing vulnerability for the ocean's widest ranging shark

Vedor M, Queiroz N, Mucientes G, et al (2021) Climate-driven deoxygenation elevates fishing vulnerability for the ocean’s widest ranging shark. eLife 10:e62508.

Climate-driven expansions of ocean hypoxic zones are predicted to concentrate pelagic fish in oxygenated surface layers, but how expanding hypoxia and fisheries will interact to affect threatened pelagic sharks remains unknown. Here, analysis of satellite-tracked blue sharks and environmental modelling in the eastern tropical Atlantic oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) shows shark maximum dive depths decreased due to combined effects of decreasing dissolved oxygen (DO) at depth, high sea surface temperatures, and increased surface-layer net primary production. Multiple factors associated with climate-driven deoxygenation contributed to blue shark vertical habitat compression, potentially increasing their vulnerability to surface fisheries. Greater intensity of longline fishing effort occurred above the OMZ compared to adjacent waters. Higher shark catches were associated with strong DO gradients, suggesting potential aggregation along suitable DO gradients contributed to habitat compression and higher fishing-induced mortality. Fisheries controls to counteract deoxygenation effects on shark catches will be needed as oceans continue warming.