Vulnerability to longline fisheries of three hammerhead shark Sphyrna species in the south-western and equatorial Atlantic Ocean
Catch and effort data from 29 418 longline sets from Brazilian tuna longline vessels operating in the south-western and equatorial Atlantic Ocean between 2004 and 2011 were analysed to investigate the distribution, catch rate and size of three species of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna mokarran and Sphyrna zygaena). During that period, 6172 hammerhead sharks were caught. Among the elasmobranchs, the highest percentage of hammerhead sharks were caught in 2007, when they accounted for 3·90% of the group, while the lowest value of 0·40% was recorded in 2010. In general, the spatial distribution of the mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) by years and quarters showed a trend of higher catches near the equatorial region and in southern Brazil. The nominal mean CPUE was 0·12 Sphyrna spp. 1000−1 hooks, with the highest value being recorded in 2007 (0·30 Sphyrna spp. 1000−1 hooks). The standardized yearly CPUE estimated by a generalized linear model assuming a zero inflated negative binomial (ZINB) distribution were not much different from nominal values. Of the 205 sexed specimens, 117 were females and 88 were males, resulting in a sex ratio with a predominance of females (1·30:1·00), although not statistically significant. The total length of females ranged from 1200 to 2800 mm and of males from 1100 to 3100 mm. Juvenile hammerhead sharks represented 82 and 54% of the sexed female and male specimens, respectively.