The Northwest Atlantic Porbeagle Shark Lamna nasus

Anderson BN (2024) The Northwest Atlantic Porbeagle Shark Lamna nasus. PhD Thesis, Arizona State University

The Northwest (NW) Atlantic porbeagle Lamna nasus is overfished and captured as bycatch in fisheries within the region. A comprehensive understanding of the population’s life history (e.g., reproduction) and habitat use, and the impact of capture with different gear types (e.g., post-release mortality) is needed to ensure effective fisheries management plans, develop bycatch mitigation strategies, and support stock recovery. This research used satellite tagging technologies to address gaps in knowledge needed to support management and conservation decisions for the NW Atlantic porbeagle. I provided the first estimate of post-release survival and recovery periods for immature porbeagles captured with rod-and-reel. Although survival was high (100%), juvenile porbeagles exhibited a recovery period in surface waters that may make them vulnerable to further fishing interactions. Next, I described the vertical habitat use of young porbeagles to recommend possible fishing modifications to reduce risk of capture. Young porbeagles spent more time in surface waters during summer compared to fall and during the night compared to day, suggesting that risk of capture may be reduced by setting gear deeper during summer and at night when this life stage’s behavior is reduced to the upper water column. Then, I provided an analysis of the seasonal and life stagebased habitat use of porbeagles. Space use was concentrated in continental shelf waters around Cape Cod, Massachusetts regardless of season and life stage. Given the relatively small and static high occupancy area overlaps with a high concentration of fishing activity, this region could be considered for spatial management of the NW Atlantic porbeagle. Finally, I used ultrasonography and satellite tagging to describe the threedimensional habitat use of gravid porbeagles for the first time. Gravid porbeagle

ii demonstrated seasonal differences in horizontal and vertical habitat use but spent most of the pupping season in waters southeast of Cape Cod or on Georges Bank, suggesting this region may be serving as a pupping ground for at least a portion of this population. Conservation efforts should focus on these important habitats to protect the next generation of porbeagles.