Abundance Trends for Hexanchus griseus, Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, and Hydrolagus colliei, Spotted Ratfish, Counted at an Automated Underwater Observation Station in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia


  • Robert Dunbrack Biology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 3X9




Hexanchus griseus, Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, Hydrolagus colliei, Spotted Ratfish, automated underwater video, British Columbia


Recordings from a time lapse video monitoring station on a shallow rocky reef in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, revealed a steep and continuous decline in the occurrence of Hexanchus griseus (Bluntnose Sixgill Shark) between 2001 and 2007, with relative abundance in 2006 and 2007 less than 1% of that in 2001. The relative abundance of another chondrichthyan, Hydrolagus colliei (Spotted Ratfish), decreased to 15% of 2004 levels in 2005 and 2006 and remained below 25% in 2007. There is no compelling explanation for these decreases. Over the past 25 years water temperatures have increased in the Strait of Georgia and there have been a number of El Niño warm water events, but diver observations of H. griseus at this site over the same time period give no indication of prior changes in abundance. Neither species is targeted by a fishery, but injuries, possibly related to hooking and entanglement, observed in 28% of individually identified H. griseus suggests this species may be taken locally as bycatch.