Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Vertebral rings as a means of age determination in the blue shark (Prionace glauca L.)

J. D. Stevensa1

a1 8 Courtenay St, Salcombe, Devon

Elasmobranch fishes cannot at present be aged by scale or otolith readings as can certain teleosts. Consequently comparatively little is known about their age or rate of growth, particularly in the case of larger sharks. Alternative methods of age determination within this group have utilized tagging data (Bonham et al., 1949; Holden, 1972); size frequencies (Olsen, 1954; Aasen, 1966); the spine of Squalus sp. (Kaganovskaia, 1933; Holden & Meadows, 1962); tooth-replacement rates (Moss, 1967, 1972) and vertebral rings. These rings on the vertebral centra, resulting from variations in calcification, have also been used in the age determination of teleosts. In the scombroids there is often considerable variation in results even between authors working on the same species, mainly due to difficulty in interpreting the rings and deciding whether they are true year marks (Aikawa & Katô, 1938; Partlo, 1955; Otsu & Uchida, 1959; Hui-chong, Nose & Hiyama, 1965).