Killing for conservation: The need for alternatives to lethal sampling of apex predatory sharks

Neil Hammerschlag, James Sulikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Top oceanic predators, especially large predatory sharks (TOPS), appear to be experiencing varying degrees of population declines. Life history data (e.g. diet, reproductive status, age and growth, mortality) are critical for developing effective conservation strategies for TOPS. Presently, lethal sampling remains the most effective and accurate means of gathering these data. To meet such challenges, many scientists have utilized specimens obtained from recreational and commercial fisheries, but have needed to supplement those data with fishery-independent sampling. However, there is growing public and scientific debate as to whether lethal sampling of TOPS is justified for obtaining conservation data. Here we describe the development and use of non-lethal alternatives for collecting data on (1) trophodynamics; (2) maturity state and fecundity; and (3) growth and mortality rates necessary to enact conservation measures for threatened or even data-deficient TOPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalEndangered Species Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation
  • Fisheries
  • Lethal sampling
  • Life history
  • Population status
  • Scientific sampling
  • Shark

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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