Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre, 1788)

Mollen, Frederik H. & Iglésias, Samuel P., 2023, An inventory of Bramble sharks Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre, 1788) (Elasmobranchii, Echinorhinidae) in natural history collections worldwide for conservation status assessment, Zoosystema 45 (22), pp. 653-748 : 663

publication ID 10.5252/zoosystema2023v45a22

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Echinorhinus brucus



The collection of material is first documented from Europe (1680 for the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean; 1827 for the Mediterranean), followed by Africa (1837), South America (1898) and finally North America (1968) where E. brucus records have always been extremely rare ( Table 2A View TABLE ). For the African continent, the ‘begin dates’ clearly follow the colonial occupation, starting with South Africa (1830s – English occupation), followed by Namibia (c. 1890s – German occupation), and finally western Africa (1950s – French occupation). After the first specimen was recorded in the 17th century, no collection records are known from the 18th century. After this century-long break in collecting, 68 specimens were recorded in the 19 th century, followed by 81 specimens in the 20 th century. Since the beginning of the 21st century, only 10 specimens have been collected to our knowledge ( Table 1C View TABLE ). For another nine specimens, the collection date is unknown. Exactly 338 years span between the most ancient (1680) and the most recent collection records (2018), resulting in an average collection rate of almost 0.5 specimens per year (n = 169). This average doubles to more than 1.1 specimens each year if the large gap between the first (1680) and the second (1827) specimen is not taken into account. The period between 1870 and 1880 is the most productive decade, with an average collection rate of 2.0 specimens per year. This first peak in the number of individuals that were collected is mainly due to European records ( Fig. 4A, B View FIG ). Both for the Mediterranean Sea and the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean, collection rates started to increase rapidly in the 1860s, with an absolute peak in the 1870s and 1880s respectively. As fast as the collection rates increased, these rates decreased again in the following decades. The collection of ‘new’ specimens from European waters became quite rare from the 1920s onwards. Possible collection biases can be observed in the 1910s and the 1940s, during the First and the Second World War respectively. As a result of the latter, some museum collections also suffered great losses, including Bramble sharks. Nevertheless, some specimens that were destroyed or got lost, remain documented to date (e.g. MSNM 2008, Entry 123; Fig. 29C View FIG ). A second peak in the number of individuals that were collected worldwide is situated in the 1980-1990s ( Fig. 4A View FIG ), and mainly a result from specimens that originate from American and African waters combined ( Fig. 4C, D View FIG ). More detailed analyses of these historic data are beyond the scope of this paper and will be dealt with in a later phase of the Bramble shark Cold Case, when records from all other data sources have been made available. As for now, we can conclude that 64 collection specimens (out of 169 individuals in total) represent new records to the scientific community and provide valuable data such as geographical origin and collection date. As such, the results of this inventory of natural history collections will contribute to conservation issues for this iconic, little-known and endangered shark species.

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