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Synonyms
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  • Lamna punctata  Storer, 1839: 185, pl. 3, fig. 2. Also Storer, 1839: 534, pl. 8. New combination for and misinterpretation of Squalus punctatus Mitchill, 1815 (= Carcharhinus isodon), itself a junior homonym of S. punctatus Bloch and Schneider, 1801(= Ginglymostoma cirratum). Type locality: Massachusetts Bay; cf. Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM).
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  • Squalus cornubicus  Gmelin, 1788: 1497. No types known according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM). Type locality: Cornwall, England.
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  • Squalus pennanti  Walbaum, 1792: 517. Type locality: Atlantic. No types according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM).
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  • Squalus monensis  Shaw, 1804: 350. Based on the "Beaumaris Shark" of Pennant, a 2.33 m (7 ft) shark observed and reported by the Rev. Hugh Davies, of Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey, Wales. No types known according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM). Shaw thought that his S. monensis might be the same as Squalus cornubicus Gmelin, 1788 (= Lamna nasus), and that differences between them might be attributable to sexual dimorphism.
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  • Squalus cornubiensis  Pennant, 1812: 152. Type locality: Cornwall. Variant spelling of S. cornubicus Gmelin, 1788 according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM).
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  • Squalus selanonus  Leach, 18181818: 64, pl. 2, fig. 2. Holotype: University of Edinburgh, ca. 2.6 m TL adult male, Lochfyne, Scotland (also, Eschmeyer, 1998: CD-ROM).
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  • Selanonius walkeri  Fleming, 1828: 169. Argyll, Scotland. Based on Squalus selanonus of Walker, 1769 (manuscript name) according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM).
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  • Lamna pennnanti  Desvaux, 1851: 23. Possibly new combination based on Squalus pennanti Walbaum, 1792.
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  • Isuropsis daekayi  Gill, 1873:813 (emended spelling of specific name).
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  • Lamna philippi  Perez Canto, 1886: 1. Type locality, Chile. Types?
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  • Lamna whitleyi  Phillipps, 1935: 239. 239, fig. 3. Syntypes: Whereabouts unknown according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM). Type Locality, Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.
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  • Lamna cornubica  Gmelin, 1788, Other Combinations.
    FAO Names
    En - Porbeagle, Fr - Requin-taupe commun, Sp - Marrajo sardinero.
    3Alpha Code: POR     Taxonomic Code: 1060800301
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Squalus nasus  Bonnaterre, 1788, Tabl. Encyclop. Method. Trois Reg. Nat., Ichthyol., Paris: 10, pl. 85, fig. 350. Holotype unknown, type locality probably Cornwall, England (Eschmeyer, 1998: Cat. Fish.: CD-ROM).
    Diagnostic Features
    fieldmarks: Heavy spindle-shaped body, moderately long conical snout, moderately large blade-like teeth with lateral cusplets, long gill slits, large first dorsal fin with abruptly white free rear tip, minute, pivoting second dorsal and anal fins, strong keels on caudal peduncle, short secondary keels on caudal base, crescentic caudal fin, ventral surface of body white and not extending over pectoral bases as white patches.

    Snout long and sharply pointed, with preoral length 5.9 to 9.0% of total length (adults 5.9 to 7.3%) and space from eye to first gill slit 1.7 to 2.5 times preorbital length.  First upper lateral teeth with nearly straight cusps.  Total vertebral count 150 to 162, precaudal vertebral count 85 to 91. Cranial rostrum with enlarged but discrete hypercalcified rostral cartilages, not forming a massive knob.  Colour: grey or bluish grey to blackish above, white below, with white abdominal colour terminating at rear end of pectoral bases; first dorsal fin with an abruptly white or greyish white free rear tip; ventral surface of head white and abdomen without dusky blotches in adults of typical Northern Hemisphere porbeagles, but underside of head dark and abdomen blotched in some Southern Hemisphere adults. 
    Geographical Distribution

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    Coastal and oceanic, amphitemperate.Coastal and oceanic, amphitemperate, with centres of distribution in the North Atlantic and in a circumglobal band of temperate water of the southern Atlantic, southern Indian Ocean, southern Pacific and Antarctic Ocean. Western Atlantic: Greenland, Canada (Newfoundland Banks, Gulf of St. Lawrence and Nova Scotia), United States (Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, rarely New York, New Jersey and possibly South Carolina), and Bermuda; southern Brazil and Uruguay to southern Argentina. Eastern Atlantic: Iceland and western Barents Sea to Baltic and North Seas, English Channel, Straits of Gibraltar, and Mediterranean Sea, including Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, the Orkney Islands, France, Portugal, Spain, and Gibraltar; entire coast of Mediterranean Sea but not in Black Sea; Morocco, Madeira, Azores, possibly the Gulf of Guinea, and off South Africa (Western Cape). Indo-West Pacific: South-central Indian Ocean from South Africa (Eastern Cape and possibly KwaZulu-Natal) eastward to between Prince Edward and Crozet Islands, between Kerguelen and St. Paul Islands, and the southern coast of Australia (southern Western Australia and South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and southern Queensland), New Zealand (including Stewart Island). Subantarctic waters off South Georgia, Marion, Prince and Kerguelen Islands. Eastern South Pacific: southern Chile south to Cape Horn.
    Habitat and Biology
    A common littoral and epipelagic shark, most abundant on the continental offshore fishing banks but also found far from land in ocean basins and occasionally close inshore. It was recently caught at the mouth of a brackish estuary in Argentina but does not penetrate fresh water.This shark usually occurs in cold water, less than 18° and down to 1°C, but was once recorded in water 23°C. It does not occur in equatorial seas as far as is known.  The porbeagle is described as active and strong-swimming in pursuit of prey, but when hooked is relatively sluggish and inactive in comparison to the shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus ), and does not engage in spectacular leaps like that species.

    The porbeagle is found at the surface down to the bottom, singly and in schools and feeding aggregations, and has been caught at depths down to at least 366 m. Porbeagles may come inshore and to the surface in summer, but will winter offshore and beneath the surface. Fisheries catches in Europe indicate that the porbeagle has populational segregation by size (age) and sex.

    Porbeagles of the western North Atlantic seem to constitute a single stock that undertakes extensive migrations between southern Newfoundland (Canada) in summer to at least Massachusetts (USA) in the winter. Longterm tagging data suggest there is no mixing between this population and that of the eastern North Atlantic.
    Porbeagles breed on both sides of the North Atlantic, off the Atlantic coast of Europe and the British Isles, where females have embryos during most of the year except July through September, and off North America from Massachusetts to Maine, where females can be found with young at all times of year. Young are apparently born in the spring off Europe, in either winter-spring or late summer off North America, and probably from April to September (peak June-July [winter]) in the Southern Hemisphere. Mating in European waters occurs in late summer, and breeding there probably occurs every year. An extended mating period seems to exist for Southern Hemisphere populations around Australia and New Zealand.

    The porbeagle is ovoviviparous and a uterine cannibal (oophagous), with litters of 1 to 5 young but the majority of litters are of four young. The foetuses grow enormously by feeding on fertilized eggs, and develop grotesquely expanded abdomens and branchial regions. Small porbeagle embryos posses fang-like functional teeth to tear open egg capsules and release the contained ova; the fangs are shed at 34 to 38 cm FL (Francis and Stevens, 2000). The gestation period has been estimated at about 8 or 9 months for North Atlantic and South Pacific populations. The length of the entire reproductive cycle is not known. Pupping and nursery areas may be in continental waters, but are little-documented. In the western North Atlantic, mating is believed to take place off southern Newfoundland.

      Tag-recapture data and tetracycline injected sharks at liberty have been used to validate age determinations for porbeagles in the western North Atlantic up to age 10, but longevity could be as much as 30 to 45 years (Natanson, Mello and Campana, in press). Preliminary studies in this region suggest that males mature at about 175 cm FL ( Age 7) and females at around 212 cm FL ( Age 14) (Campana et al. 1999). Newborn porbeagles grow an estimated 15 to 20 cm per year (FL) during the first three years of life in the South Pacific. Prior to the intensive fishery that greatly reduced the numbers of this shark in European waters, the annual mortality for the species was an estimated 18% under low human exploitation and probably minimal predation pressure from other species. Recent research in Atlantic Canada indicates that the instantaneous natural mortality rate of porbeagles is about 0.1.
    This shark is a proverbially voracious feeder on small to moderate-sized pelagic schooling fishes, including mackerel (Scomber, Scombridae), pilchards and herring (Clupeidae), various gadoids such as cod, haddock, cusk, whiting (Gadidae) and hake (Merluccidae), icefishes (Channichthyidae) and John dories (Zeidae). Chondrichthyan prey include dogfish (Squalus acanthias, Squalidae) and tope sharks Galeorhinus galeus (Triakidae). Cephalopod prey includes squid and cuttlefish. It will scavenge hooked fishes including cod from longlines.

    Predators of the porbeagle are little known (apart from humans). A small specimen from Argentina had tooth marks suggestive of a carcharhinid, perhaps Carcharhinus brachyurus, but it is uncertain if these were from a predation bout or agonistic encounter. The white shark and orca are obvious candidates for porbeagle predators, but records of predation by either on porbeagles are not known to the author.
    Size
    Maximum total length 300+ cm, possibly to 370 cm but most smaller; size at birth between 60 and 75 cm TL (69 to 80 cm TL in South Pacific); males maturing at about 150 to 200 cm TL (196 cm TL in the western North Atlantic) and reaching at least 262 cm; females maturing at about 200 to 250 cm TL (with one reported at only 152 cm), to possibly 370 cm (with most less than 300 cm). Females mature at about 237 cm TL in the western North Atlantic and at about 185 to 202 cm TL in the South Pacific. There are several morphometric and L-W equations for porbeagles:
    Kohler, Casey and Turner (1995): W(kg) = 1.4823 x 10-5 x FL(cm)2.9641 (n = 15, western North Atlantic)
    where: FL(cm) = 1.7939 + 0.8971 x TL(cm) (n = 13)
    Campana et al. (1999): W(kg) = 0.5 x 10-4 x FL(cm)2.713 (n = 286, western North Atlantic)
    where: FL(cm) = 0.99 + 0.885 x TL(cm) (n = 361)
    Campana et al. (1999): FL(cm) = 4.96 x IDL(cm)0.901 (n = 358)
    Campana et al. (1999): FL(cm) = 1.7 + 1.12 PCL(cm) (n = 360)
    Francis and Stevens (2000): PCL(cm) = -1.366 + 0.907 FL(cm) (n = 866, FL = 61 to 223 cm, New Zealand)
    Francis and Stevens (2000): TL(cm) = 4.165 + 1.098 FL(cm) (n = 173, FL = 63 to 180 cm, Australia)
    Interest to Fisheries
    This species has been heavily fished commercially and utilized for human consumption in the temperate North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, but is also caught as bycatch in the Southern Hemisphere where it is the second most common shark as bycatch of the New Zealand longline fishery. World catches of porbeagles have been reported to FAO by a number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, the Channel and Faeroe Islands, France, Germany, Iceland, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Saint Pierre and Miquelon Islands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. World catches per annum ranged from 346 to 9 674 t from 1951 through 1997 (mean 2 102 t) with 1 736 t reported in 1997 (FAO FishStat Plus database, 2000). The major peak was in the middle 1960s and was followed by a declining trend with peaks and declines in the 1970s and 1980s to a level between 1 000 and 2 500 t in the 1990s.

    Stocks in the North Atlantic have shown signs of serious overfishing in the form of greatly declining catches. Scandinavian fishers have caught porbeagles since the early nineteenth century, but only intensively during the twentieth century. Norway and to a lesser extent Denmark have been the principle fishers of porbeagles in the North Atlantic. Norwegian catches have varied wildly during the twentieth century, increasing from 279 t in 1926 to 3 884 t in 1933, then declining steadily to low levels during the second world war. Intensive fishing resumed in 1945 and peaked at 2 824 t in 1947, but then steadily declined to 207 t in 1970 and only 25 t in 1994. Porbeagles became scarce off Europe and the Norwegian fishery spread to the western North Atlantic, but eventually the fishery shifted to other species such as shortfin mako and swordfish. Small regulated catches exist at present for Norway (200 t allocated in European Community waters per year) and New Zealand, with the species protected in United States waters and regulated in the European Community. Canadian catches of porbeagles were less than 100 t/y until 1990 but landings increased in 1992 and catches have oscillated around 1 300 t/y since 1994. The western Atlantic stock is currently considered overexploited, with declining catch rates, and a fishing mortality beyond the replacement level. A Canadian management plan that limits the number of licenses, types of gear, fishing areas and seasons, prohibits finning, and restricts recreational fishing to catch-and-release only, has been in force since 1995. A TAC of 1 000 t/y was introduced in the commercial fishery for the period 1997-1999 pending better scientific information about resource status. In the past porbeagles were considered a nuisance to commercial fishermen because they wrecked light gear set for bony fishes (such as cod nets) and bit fish off hooks, but probably not so much at present with greatly depleted porbeagle stocks and decimated stocks of some of its prey species (including cod).

    A considerable bycatch fishery for porbeagle by Japanese longliners and probably the pelagic fishing fleets of other countries has existed in the southern Indian Ocean and probably elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. The catch is poorly known and may be little-utilized except for fins.
    It has figured as complementary bycatch (fins utilized) of the Japanese longline fishery for southern bluefin tuna off Tasmania. It is used fresh and dried-salted for human consumption; for oil and fishmeal for fertilizer; and for fins for shark-fin soup.The species is primarily caught with pelagic longlines; also pelagic trawl and bottom trawl, handlines and gill nets. It has recently showed up as bycatch of demersal longlines for Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides, Nototheniidae) in the southern Indian Ocean. Statistics for the Southern Hemisphere porbeagle fishery are only reported to FAO by New Zealand (21 t in 1997), which suggests that the southern catch is largely unreported. This species has been described as a relatively less active game fish compared to the shortfin mako and white shark. However, the porbeagle has been regularly sought by sportsfishing anglers in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States and is a strong fighter (especially on light tackle from a small boat). It is listed as a record game fish by the International Game Fish Association.

    Conservation Status : The conservation status of the porbeagle is of major concern because of the drastic decline in catches from targeted fisheries in the North Atlantic and continuing exposure of the species to intensive high-seas pelagic longline fisheries (with finning and capture trauma contributing to mortality) wherever it occurs. North Atlantic fisheries are relatively well-documented and under regulation, but not those of the Southern Hemisphere with the exception of New Zealand.
    related Additional information from IUCN database
    related Additional information from CITESdatabase
    Local Names
    England and USA); : Mackerel shark, Common porbeagle, Porbeagle shark, Atlantic mackerel shark, Common Atlantic mackerel shark, Salmon shark, Atlantic porbeagle, Swordfin, Blue dog, American porbeagle, Beaumaris shark, Blue shark, Bottle-nosed shark .
    France : Le squale nez ,  Le lamie long nez ,  Lamie ,  Nez ,  Touille ,  Touilele boeuf taupe ,  Requin long nez ,  Loutre de mer ,  Nas llarg ,  Melantoun .
    Holland : Neushaai .
    Denmark : Sillhaj or Herring shark ,  Sildehaaen .
    Wales : Morgi mawr .
    Sweden : Haabranden ,  Haamar .
    Italy : Smeriglio ,  Lamna smeriglio ,  Isuro muso acuto ,  Cagnia ,  Sorglio pisci tunnu ,  Pisci cani ,  Cani di mer .
    Adriatic : Psina atlantska .
    Spain : Calderon ,  El marrago ,  Ludia ,  Marraco ,  Marraquet ,  Marrraix ,  Marrajo ,  Taulo .
    Portugal : Anequim ,  Arrequim ,  Marracho ,  Sardo .
    Azores : Marracho ,  Porbeagle .
    Madeira : Requim ,  Nequim .
    Russia : Akula sel devaia .
    South Africa : Haringhaai .
    Remarks
    Threat to humans: The porbeagle seldom if ever bites people in the water or boats (unlike its close relatives the shortfin mako and white sharks). An older anecdotal account mentions a provoked encounter by a porbeagle that leapt at and bit a piece of clothing from a fisherman who was attempting to capture it. A swimmer was reported as being bitten by a "mackerel shark", but this was not confirmed and could have resulted from mistaking a white shark or shortfin mako for a porbeagle or mackerel shark. Recently adult porbeagles have been filmed underwater making fast rushes at divers servicing oil platforms in the North Sea, with the sharks sometimes brushing the divers and making light contact without hurting them (I. Fergusson, pers. comm.). The motivation of this activity is uncertain but is apparently nonpredatory and possibly agonistic or exploratory. To the writer's knowledge porbeagles have not figured in ecotouristic diving, nor have they been kept in captivity.
    Source of Information
    Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2 Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes).Leonard J.V. Compagno 2001.  FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 2001. p.269.
    Bibliography
    Aasen, (1961, 1963)
    Baldridge , (1974)
    Bigelow & Schroeder, 1948
    Campana et al. (1999)
    Castro, Woodley & Brudek, 1999
    Compagno , (19841990b, c;)
    (No Author) , (1985)
    Duhamel & Ozouf-Costaz , (1982)
    Farquhar, 1963
    Fowler, (1936, 1941)
    Francis & Stevens, (2000)
    Garman, (1913)
    Garrick & Schultz, (1963)
    I. Fergusson, (pers. comm.)
    Kato, Springer & Wagner, 1967
    Lahille, (1928)
    Last & Stevens, (1994)
    Lucifora & Menni, (1997)
    Nakaya, 1971
    Natanson, Mello & Campana, (in press)
    O'Boyle et al. (1998)
    Paust and Smith, 1986
    (No Author) , (1984)
    (No Author) , (1985)
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    Whitley, (1939, 1940)
     
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