Sharks and rays caught by artisanal bottom line in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.
Since May 2010 until May 2011 biological and fishery information regarding 67 artisanal fishing operations were collected in different areas of Golfo Dulce. A total of 30 (44.8%) onboard operations and 37 (55.2%) landings were observed. During onboard operations, a total of 872 fish were caught: 345 (39.6%) were sharks (Sphyrnidae, Carcharhinidae, Heterodontidae, Ginglymostomatidae and Triakidae), 228 (26.1%) “bait” fish (Aridae), 112 (13.1%) rays (Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, Rhinobatidae and Mobulidae) and 111 (12.7%) commercial fish (Lutjanidae, Serranidae Sciaenidae). The capture condition (dead or alive), the low commercial value and the availability of fishermen, allowed us to release 65 sharks and 111 rays, all of them were alive and without hooks. Of these 75.7% were stingrays (D. longa), 12.6% eagle ray (A. narinari), 5.4% cownose rays (R. steindachneri), 5.4% guitar fish (R. leucorhynchus), the spoited ray 2.7% (U. chilenis), 0.9% butterfly ray (G. marmorata), and 0.9% mobula (Mobula sp.). The CPUE rate shows that the sharks and rays contributed more than 50% of the total catch of fishing operations. However, the months when the fishermen caught more sharks, the rays were not abundant. July and August were the months with the highest shark CPUE, while January-February were the months with the highest ray catches. Regarding the 37 landings observations, a total of 264 sharks were analyzed, being the scalloped hammerhead shark the most abundant (S. lewini, n=163), with 61.7%, followed by the common soothhound shark (M. lunulatus, n=48) (18.2%), the blacktip shark (C. limbatus, n=27) (10.2%) the pacific sharpnose shark (R. longurio, n=24) (9.1%), whitenose shark (0.4%) (Nasolamia velox, n=1) and the bonnethead shark (0.4%) (Sphyrna tiburo, n=1). The fusion of biological and fishery data from onboard observations and landings made it possible to analyze a total 609 sharks belonging to ten species. Of these, S. lewini represented more than 51.8% of total sharks analyzed; M. lunulatus, 23.5% R. longurio, 13.8% and C. limbatus, 8.9%. Other species G. cirratum, G. cuvier, N. velox, shovel head shark (S. tiburo) and the horn shark H. mexicanus were very sporadic since they contributed only 2.0% of the total. Analyses of length of S. lewini showed that they are mostly juveniles (74.31±17.4cm). Similar situation was found with individuals of R. longurio, M. lunulatus and C. limbatus whose mean total lengths were of 65.22±14.04cm, 94.08±23.64cm 4.44cm respectively 76.65cm.