Estimates of regional annual abundance and population growth rates of white sharks off central California


Determining population trends is critical for evaluating management actions and prioritizing species protections. In this study, we used empirical data to produce an estimate of the population trend for sub-adult and adult white sharks in central California. We used the unique dorsal fin morphology to build a mark-recapture data set in a modified Jolly-Seber model (POPAN formulation) to estimate annual abundance and then investigate population growth rates using parametric bootstrapping methods for sub-adult and adult sharks (males and females). For all demographic groups combined, we found equivocal evidence for a positive regional population growth (λ = 1.07 (95% CI = 0.91 to 1.23)). However, sex- and size-specific population growth rate estimates provided some evidence of population increases for reproductively mature males (λ = 1.06 (95% CI = 0.99 to 1.13)) and females (λ = 1.06 (95% CI = 0.95 to 1.17)). For sub-adult male and female white sharks, point estimates of λ were positive but uncertainty prevents strong inference (λ = 1.07 (95% CI = 0.85 to 1.29)) and (λ = 1.08 (95% CI = 0.88 to 1.28)), respectively. Our findings of a potential increase in reproductive-aged white sharks in central California may be a result of regional fluxes in density or attributed in part to current protection efforts and subsequent increase in abundance of pinnipeds as well as reduced gill-net fisheries mortality of juveniles. A trend estimate for the entire northeastern Pacific will require obtaining similar data across known aggregation areas along the west coast of North America.




Kanive, P. E., Rotella, J. J., Chapple, T. K., Anderson, S. D., White, T. D., Block, B. A., & Jorgensen, S. J. (2021). Estimates of regional annual abundance and population growth rates of white sharks off central California. Biological Conservation, 257, 109104.
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